New wager system at Laurel hits it big

January 30, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

All the preparation during the last month by the mutuel and maintenance departments at Laurel Race Course and the technicians at AmTote International, Inc., in Hunt Valley appears to have paid off.

When the new Spectrum 2000 betting system was unveiled at the track yesterday, there wasn't a computer glitch or disgruntled fan to be found.

"Highly surprising," said longtime security guard Andy Runfeldt, who works the second floor of the clubhouse. "I've had no complaints and people seem to be happy. I think some of the fans visualized they might get shut out [at the betting windows], but it didn't happen."

The system was introduced before an average-size weekday crowd of 5,441, and management overstaffed the windows to prevent slow lines.

"The lines moved fast. The [new] tickets are clear. I've got no complaints at all," said Maryann Mallinoff of Lanham. Her sentiments were echoed by more than a dozen fans in a random survey in the clubhouse and grandstand sections of the track.

In case a problem popped up, AmTote International had 40 technicians at the track.

"The whole shooting match was here," track operator Joe De Francis said. "The smoothness of today's operation is a real tribute to them and to all of our employees who worked incredibly long hours over the last four days. Everyone did a phenomenal job."

The track had been shut down since Monday so that the equipment could be installed and tested.

Dave Payton, manager of customer service for AmTote, said Laurel "was the best prepared of any track in the country [that had converted to the new system]. We'd like to take them with us to Arlington Park when we do the same sort of job there."

Ella Richardson, who has been a teller for 13 years at Maryland and California tracks, said: "The [new] system is a little slower, but the public was really cooperative.

"There was almost a festive mood. But, I guess, you'd expect it," she added, laughing, "they hadn't gambled in four days."

NOTES: Greg Hutton rode three winners on yesterday's card, and Mark Johnston and Santos Chavez each scored a double. Chavez won the $18,500 feature with John Alecci's Apollo Sky. . . . GTECH Corp. has made it official. The company has signed a definitive agreement to buy the on- and off-track pari-mutuel wagering operations of AmTote International, Inc. AmTote had been a subsidiary of General Instruments, Inc. (GTECH), the same company that operates the Keno video lottery game in Maryland.

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