The way I see it, the NYRA takeout fiasco is far more breathtaking in the sheer incompetence and ineptitude on display, by both the association and the bodies that regulate it, than its actual practical effect. "$8.6 million taken out of horseplayers' pockets" may sound draconian. However, over 15 months and thousands of affected wagers, it's really for the most part just relative dribs and drabs withheld from bettors who were probably overjoyed to have won and collected in the first place. Half of them will probably never even realize that anything untoward occurred.
And let's face it. This was not money that was going to go towards stimulating the economy or creating jobs. One could argue that the vast majority would have been churned right back into the pools. So NYRA was probably hurting mostly itself and its horsemen.
I mention this not in an attempt to diminish what happened. It's inexcusable. But with the fight over casinos starting to simmer, and just in the course of everyday politics and business with the rivalries and conflicts that accompany them, we're certain to hear that number used as a cudgel by those to whom NYRA is an obstacle to their business interests, or just the convenient foil they have been for quite some time. So I think it's important to keep things in perspective.
In any event, this whole affair is just so bizarre; there's no rational explanation for what occurred. I wrote in the last post about how the sunset provision was common knowledge when the law was passed, and how everyone seemed to have mysteriously forgotten about it (including myself). But, as it turns out, not everyone had. Pull the Pocket wrote of a poster on the Paceadvantage site who says that he actually contacted the Racing and Wagering Board in January of 2011 about the takeout being too high, and never received a response! How can that be? What were they thinking of?
The immediate reactions of the two main parties involved, NYRA and the Board, also left something to be desired as far as I'm concerned, as they tried to slip it by as if nothing major had happened. This is the audio of the meeting of the NY State Racing and Wagering Board at which the takeout overcharge was discussed and disclosed. The subject is brought up rather casually, second on the agenda after some routine matter involving Capitol OTB, and framed initially in the context of NYRA's request to lower the rate to a point under the maximum allowed. If you go to the 18 minute mark, you'll hear Chairman John Sabini praise his auditors for discovering the discrepancy. That doesn't jibe however with the subsequent reports that the error was found by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. And Tom Precious reported in Bloodhorse that the Board and its Chairman may be on thin ice.
[Franchise Oversigh Board chairman Robert] Megna also said, interestingly, that he would be “remiss” if he did not also express his “deep disappointment in the failure of the racing and wagering board to adequately discharge its regulatory responsibilities” to catch the accounting error by NYRA.As for NYRA, they tried to totally gloss the matter over with a press release entitled NYRA LOWERS TAKEOUT ON EXOTICS. And I think they may come to regret blaming the error on "the complexity of the takeout provisions in the Racing Law." The fact is that the sunset provision stands out in its clarity from the rest of the gobbledygook in the law. Sometimes contrition is the best course. Oops, we messed up, we're sorry. There's a great song on the Lemonheads' first album, the somewhat overlooked punk classic Hate Your Friends. I won't print the profane title here in deference to the blessed holiday that is now upon us. But the lyrics go:
The matter poses problems, state sources said, for NYRA and the racing board’s leadership, which was not appointed by the current Cuomo administration since it took office nearly a year ago. Given Megna’s unusual public rebuke, it remains uncertain whether NYSRWB chairman John Sabini can hold onto his post under the weight of the new NYRA controversy. [Bloodhorse]
So I f**ked upWell, in this case....probably not. Have a great holiday everyone.
I'm only human
So I f**ked up
I did the best I could do
And then I f**ked up
What do you want
I said I was sorry would it help if I said it again, and again, and again, and again?
- And for a chill Xmas soundtrack, check out the awesome Christmas Lounge on SOMA FM.