Punters using Singapore Pools' online Toto Quick Pick option have been affected by two software glitches, one of which left the number "49" out of the numbers generated in their bets for a period of more than a year.
In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said it was notified of the glitches earlier this month.
"MHA takes a very serious view of these errors and is currently investigating the matter," said the gambling regulator, adding that Singapore Pools has since rectified the errors.
The errors affected only punters who placed their bets online, said the MHA, noting that customers who placed bets at Singapore Pools retail outlets were not affected.
Singapore Pools alerted the ministry to the first software error on Jan 3 this year, which involved Toto Quick Pick numbers purchased through its online platforms.
Punters who place bets via the Quick Pick option allow the Singapore Pools system to generate a random set of numbers for them.
The first glitch resulted in the system excluding the number 49 and selecting only numbers from one to 48 when generating Quick Pick numbers for customers placing bets online.
Singapore Pools was alerted to the glitch on Dec 18 last year and rectified it three days later.
The lottery operator discovered the second software glitch in the Toto Quick Pick System Roll while resolving the first error on Dec 20 and reported it to the ministry on Jan 10.
In the Quick Pick System Roll, a set of five numbers is randomly generated, with a sixth "rolling" number, designated as "R" that represents all the remaining 44 numbers.
Because of the glitch, instead of randomly generating six numbers and then assigning "R" in place of one of the six generated numbers, the system replaced the largest of the six generated numbers with "R" instead.
Number of Toto draws since the glitches were introduced that included "49" in the winning numbers.
The approximate number of Toto draws that were conducted while the glitches were in the system.
The MHA said that after Singapore Pools got confirmation from its service provider on Jan 12 of the glitch, it fixed the error the next day.
In a statement, the lottery operator said an internal review of the system found that the software glitches were introduced on Oct 2, 2018, during a system update conducted by a service vendor.
It added: "Singapore Pools takes responsibility for this incident. The interests of customers remain its highest priority."
The glitches did not affect how the winning numbers were drawn for Toto, said Singapore Pools.
On the impact of the glitches, it said there were 14 Toto draws that included 49 as a winning number while its system was affected. It added that the glitches impacted about 3 per cent of Toto sales, but declined to reveal the number of affected punters.
About 130 Toto draws were conducted while the glitches were in the system.
Singapore Pools said it will contact affected customers and refund the bets they had placed in the 14 draws where 49 was drawn as a winning number.
It will also provide a goodwill token to the group of customers who may have missed out on potential winnings in the 14 draws. It did not elaborate on what this token was.
The Tote Board, which oversees Singapore Pools, said yesterday it will set up a review panel to examine the causes of the incident, how it was managed and what measures can be taken to prevent it from occurring again.
The panel will be chaired by Tote Board chairman Moses Lee and comprise independent board members and external experts.
A Singapore Pools spokesman said: "Singapore Pools remains committed to serving its customers in a responsible manner and will do better to ensure their interests are protected. The robustness and the continuity of the online platforms for our customers remain our utmost priority."
The MHA said it has directed Singapore Pools to take all necessary measures to ensure the integrity of its betting system and to prevent further recurrence.
It noted that sanctions may be imposed if the operator is found to have breached regulations and this could include censure and a fine.