TVG Makes Hash of Kentucky Derby

Posted on: May 9, 2016, 02:21h. 

Last updated on: May 9, 2016, 02:21h.

Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby
Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby, but it was more like Demolition Derby down at TVG. (Image:

Betting handle on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby was the second highest in the race’s history. Some $192.6 million passed through the bookie’s hands, just short of the record set in 2015 when American Pharaoh took his first step on the road to Triple Crown glory.

But a significant portion of that money apparently failed to end up in the hands of US licensed betting site Television Gaming Network (TVG), which mysteriously flat-lined about an hour before the race began and stayed that way for its duration.

Yes, while eventual winner Nyquist was limbering up, or whatever it is horses do an hour before a race, thousands of the account-wagering site’s customers were excluded from participating in US horseracing’s biggest betting day of the year.

DDoS Not to Blame

It bore the hallmarks of a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), in which cyber criminals overload a website’s bandwidth with traffic from multiple sources, rendering it temporarily non-operational in order to extort money.

Online gambling sites are prime targets, because criminals know they can target them during specific events, like the Kentucky Derby, when customer interaction is guaranteed to be high.

The truth, according to Betfair-operated TVG, is more prosaic, or so it claims. In a press release issued Monday, the company apologized to its customers and said that “human error” was to blame for a system error that was introduced during at the final moment.

In short, someone blundered, big time.

TVG Apology

“At TVG, we know how important it is to provide a great experience to our wagering account holders, not only on the first Saturday in May, but every day,” said the statement. “Today, plain and simple, we let many of you down, and we’re sorry.

“We build our products to handle enormous amounts of volume and have committed significant time and resources to accommodate a growing customer base. This year in particular, we took unprecedented measures to ensure a great experience for our customers. Regretfully, due to human error, we introduced today’s problem during a final readiness check. This won’t happen again.”

Early figures suggest that betting revenue was down just one percent on last year, and without the TVG crash this year’s derby would have been a record breaker, although it did include one more race than in 2015.

TVG’s loss was Churchill Downs gain, however. The racetrack, which operates the betting site, said total handle was up 29 percent on last year, to $26.8 million, of which $16.6 million was taken through its online arm. That’s up 22 percent from online bets handled in 2015.

That means whoever spilt their Frappuccino on the server at TVG made a multi-million dollar mistake.