The time I nearly lost a bookie $70,000

I had just moved to the Gold Coast from Hobart and was looking for some part time work while at University. I responded to an ad on Gumtree looking for someone who was “good with computers and could work weekends”. Tick and tick. I ended up getting an interview and getting the job.

The job was working as a bookies hand, entering bets into the computer that were called out. It required driving to remote locations in Queensland to local race tracks. The races are a big event for locals of country towns. There were often 5 to 6 independent bookies at each meet.

Second week on the job and we were are 3 hours drive from Brisbane in a remote town. I’m still learning the different types of bets and the key bindings for the text based program that i’m sure was written in the 90's

Leading up to the main race of the day, it is super busy for 10 minutes. The line is never less than 10 people long. Everyone is trying to get their bets on, money and tickets are flying everywhere. I’m placing a bet every 5–10 seconds.

Finally the race started and I could relax, getting through all the people with minimal errors. That is until I decided to check the logs and saw that a bet had been placed that was paying out $70,000. To put this in perspective, often in the kitty there would only be a couple of thousand dollars. No way a bet that size gets placed, and no way we could every pay out a bet that big. Turns out when working in the country on dusty racing tracks, computer equipment tends to not works as well. Perhaps this dust finds its way into the keyboard and causes keys to get stuck down. This may turn a $5 bet into a bet that will pay $70,000 if that horse places.

So now there’s a lady out there with a $70,000 bet slip watching the horse race to see if ‘$5’ bet gets up. The race starts and we all watch on anxiously. Coming around the last bend, our horse is in 3rd position. It doesn’t look good. I loose sight of the horse from the crowd of people and listen for the results… Over the load speaker we hear It placed 4th.

That’s the day I nearly lost a bookie $70,000 and decided that being a bookies hand was not for me.