Singapore’s online lottery and betting monopoly is wiping egg off its face after discovering its software was preventing online lottery players from winning.
On Wednesday, Singapore Pools announced that it had detected and fixed “software glitches” in its online TOTO Quick Pick and Quick Pick System Roll options. The glitches affected internet, mobile and phone platforms, which account for 7% of TOTO sales.
Last December 18, Singapore Pools was alerted to the fact that the TOTO Quick Pick software was omitting the number ‘49’ from appearing on any tickets purchased online, meaning anyone who selected the Quick Pick option were out of luck if the system that drew the winning numbers picked the number ‘49’. The company patched the system on December 21.
Singapore Pools deployed a second patch on January 13 to resolve a glitch in the Quick Pick System Roll option that was discovered while patching the first problem. In this option, five numbers are selected by the computer along with a sixth ‘rolling’ wild card designated as ‘R’. The glitch involved the computer selecting six numbers and then automatically replacing the highest number with R rather than randomly replacing any of the selected numbers.
Both glitches were reportedly caused by a system update in October 2018, meaning the system was compromised for over a year. The company estimates that around 3% of all TOTO sales were affected by the glitches.
Singapore Pools expressed regret for its late recognition of the glitches and said it would be “reaching out to affected customers to address their concerns and provide remediation.” This will include refunding bets placed in all 14 draws in which the number ‘49’ appeared and providing “a goodwill token” to customers who “may have missed out on potential winnings” in these 14 draws.
Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said Singapore Pools alerted the government regarding the problem on January 3. The MHA issued a statement saying it took “a very serious view of these errors” and was investigating the matter, while ordering the company to “take all necessary measures” to ensure no further cockups.
The Singapore Totalizator Board, which says it was alerted the day after the MHA learned of the problem, has decided to convene a review panel to judge the company’s response to the glitches and impose whatever disciplinary action it deems appropriate.
Singapore Pools launched its online lottery and betting site in 2016 and remains the only legal online option following the country’s passage of the Remote Gambling Act one year earlier. In 2018, Singapore Pools absorbed the race betting operations of its duopolistic partner Singapore Turf Club.