'49' omitted in some TOTO Quick Picks for over a year; MHA investigating

(Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

SINGAPORE — The number 49 had been unknowingly excluded from some TOTO Quick Pick numbers for over a year before a system glitch was uncovered by operator Singapore Pools in December.

This error was one of two system glitches, both found in December, reported to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in January 2020. The MHA said, in a statement on Wednesday (15 January) that it is investigating the glitches.

Singapore Pools said, in a media release, that it will reach out to affected customers who had placed the bets through remote platforms, such as the internet, mobile app and telephone.

In the statement, also published on Wednesday (15 January), Singapore Pools said that besides the first error, the second glitch impacted the Quick Pick System Roll numbers generated by the online Quick Pick option.

The first error resulted in the system only selecting numbers from “1” to “48” only, when generating Quick Pick numbers. 

The second error involved the system replacing the largest of the six generated numbers with “R”. A random number out of the six generated numbers should have been assigned “R”, instead of the largest number.

Both errors were said to have occurred since 2 October 2018, when a system update was conducted by a service vendor.

Neither software glitch affected how the winning numbers were drawn for TOTO, added Singapore Pools.

Singapore Pools was alerted to the first software glitch on 18 December last year and rectified it three days later. It identified the second glitch in the course of resolving the first error.

After a service provider confirmed on 12 January that the second issue was an error, it was fixed a day later with the introduction of an additional patch.

Only customers who placed bets through remote platforms were affected. Those who placed them at Singapore Pools outlets in person are not.

The operator estimated that the bets made by affected customers constitute around 3 per cent of its total TOTO sales. About 7 per cent of its TOTO sales is generated via online platforms. It did not reveal how many customers, nor the total amount of TOTO sales, were affected by the glitch.

“Singapore Pools will provide remediation to its affected customers by refunding them the bets they had placed in the 14 draws where the number "49" was drawn as a winning number,” stated the press release.

The operator added that it will provide a “goodwill token” to customers who may have missed out on potential winnings in the 14 draws.

“Singapore Pools is working out the details and will be reaching out to affected customers,” it said.

Review panel convened

In a press release issued on the same day, the MHA said that it was investigating the matter. Singapore Pools informed the MHA about the first and second glitch on 3 January and 10 January respectively.

“(Singapore Pools) provides Singapore-based remote gambling services pursuant to an exemption under Part 5 of the Remote Gambling Act (RGA). Regulatory sanctions under the RGA may be imposed if a breach of the conditions of exemption is determined,” said the MHA.

The sanctions may include a censure, variation of the conditions of exemption, and the imposition of a financial penalty, it added.

The ministry has also directed Singapore Pools to take all necessary measures to ensure the integrity of the betting system, and to prevent a recurrence of the errors.

“The Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board) will be convening a review panel chaired by Mr Moses Lee, Chairman Tote Board, and comprising independent Board Members and external expert resources, to assess Singapore Pools handling of the issues and to recommend further actions as necessary,” stated MHA.

Noting that Singapore Pools was reaching out to affected customers, the MHA said it will look into the operator’s rectifications and preventive measures.

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to MHA and Singapore Pools regarding the number of customers and the value of bets affected.

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