By PAUL POST, firstname.lastname@example.org
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A local New York Racing Association board
member says firings are not warranted following a mistake that cost bettors $8
From September 2010 to this Dec. 18, NYRA shortchanged
bettors by failing to reduce its takeout — the money it receives — on some
exotic wagers, a mandated statutory change.
NYRA has been ordered to refund money to people whose wagers
can be traced, and faces the possibility of stiff fines from the state.
"This is an unfortunate mistake," said NYRA board
member Charles Wait of Saratoga Springs. "These things happen from time to
time in business. It clearly was unintentional. We’re going to refund all the
people we can. There’s just not much we can do about it at this point."
To make up for its error, NYRA has permanently reduced its
takeout on the same exotic wagers by 2 percent, making more money available to
Wait said the NYRA board will review all procedures and
policies to see how the mistake happened, and prevent similar occurrences in
NYRA President and CEO Charles Hayward took full
responsibility for the incident in a story published Tuesday in The Daily
"There’s a lot of people both inside NYRA and the state
that had the opportunity to review that, and the bottom line is we missed
it," he said.
Wait said he doesn’t believe anyone at NYRA should lose
"I don’t think so," he said. "It’s something
for the (board’s) Audit Committee to review."
Asked if firings would follow a similar mistake at the bank
— Adirondack Trust Co. — that he chairs, Wait said, "It’s not comparable.
The racing laws are quite complex. We (NYRA) missed it and made a mistake. The
first thing you do is apologize, which we’ve done."
In the long run, Wait said he hopes the permanent reduced
takeout will turn out to be a "silver lining" by encouraging more
wagering, which produces better racing.
Of the $8 million in question, about $1.1 million was
wagered directly with NYRA. Of this, $420,000 was from people who have NYRA
Rewards betting accounts. All of this can be traced and will be returned, NYRA
spokes-man Dan Silver said.
Some bets can also be traced with IRS tax filings. But that
still leaves large sums unaccounted for. It’s unclear how much of this NYRA
will have to relinquish in the form of fines and/or donations to racing-related
Another $6.8 million was bet with other wagering entities,
from off-track betting shops to simulcast facilities, both within and outside
New York. The New York State Racing & Wagering Board has ordered New York’s
OTB companies to track down whatever wagers it can.