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Friday, January 13, 2012

Third Time Would Not Be the Charm for NYRA (Updated)

James Odato reports on the Times Union's Capitol Confidential site that the State Racing and Wagering Board is investigating whether NYRA has been improperly letting people bet on credit.

The examination was triggered by a Times Union inquiry to the Racing and Wagering board last month that [Franchise Oversight Chairman Robert] Megna found out about, according to Lee Park, a spokesman for the racing board.

NYRA spokesman Dan Silver and President Charles Hayward have declined to take calls from the Times Union during the past month. After a reporter forwarded Megna’s letter to him, Silver wrote in an e-mail on Thursday that NYRA’s account wagering operation complies with the law and follows procedures approved by the racing board. [Capitol Confidential]
Oh man. This probe comes of course on the heels of the takeout overcharge and the accidental Lasix shot(s).
If NYRA is essentially letting betters wager on credit by accepting bets against underfunded accounts, Megna said, “this would represent significant mismanagement.”
That's pretty strong language coming from Cuomo's budget director, and the chairman of an oversight board that has the power to recommend to the Racing and Wagering Board that NYRA's franchise be revoked. Here's the language from that particular clause from the franchise agreement:
The franchise oversight board shall notify the franchised corporation authorized by this chapter in writing of any material breach of the performance standards or repeated non-material breaches which the franchise oversight board may determine collectively constitute a
material breach of the performance standards.
Now it goes on to say that NYRA has "reasonable opportunity to cure" any such breaches and there would then be a hearing by the Board and besides, we don't want to jump to any conclusions about what NYRA has or has not done here, which is not really clear from Odato's post. But it's surely interesting to note that materiality is not even a threshold that has to be met if indiscretions and errors are "repeated," and this (if proven to be so) would be the third one to be exposed in a short period of time.

As I've made clear here in the past, I'm not objective when it comes to NYRA - that's borne out of 40 well-satisfied years of going to their tracks (my constant complaining about the condition of Aqueduct notwithstanding). I like the people there; think that they are nice, smart, and truly passionate about the sport. I don't see any good whatsoever that would come out of some other entity - God knows who it would be - taking over the franchise here. But while it's surely true that people and companies make mistakes all the time, these guys are really under the microscope. NYRA apparently has no friends in Albany, least of all it would seem the powerful and sometimes cranky governor, whose very infrequent references to the association have been aloof, at best, with a not-so-vague tinge of hostility. So I think they better stop fucking up.

[UPDATE: NYRA responds....forcefully.]


Steve said...

Like any business that accepts payment in the form of a check - the business risks the possibility of the check bouncing. R&WB is now digging trying to find more dirt on NYRA to cover THEIR mistake with the takeout.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a key element to the investigation will be relative to when the bet was taken by the NYRA; at the time it received the check or after the check cleared the bank.

SaratogaSpa said...

and to think, I thought the mob was the only organization that took bets on credit

Dan said...

I read this & laughed yesterday. Mr. Megna is really busting balls here. I have a NYRA Rewards account & signed up for "Express Funding". I can get up to $500 a day (1,000 over 7 days). They give you the $ into the account immediately. They do a ACH Debit from your checking or savings account the next business day. I don't see this as giving a bettor credit.

You sign up if you "bounce" the payment then they will shut down this feature plus they can put your account into collections since they have your Social Security number.

This is all about busting NYRA'S Balls.

jk said...

I can electronically transfer up to $500 from my checking account to my NYRA rewards account. I can bet against the $500 immediately while it takes a few days for the money to switch over to NYRA. I guess I have been betting on credit! The NYRA haters are grasping at straws here, a foot foul at worst.

Meanwhile it looks like all is forgiven on the takeout overcharge. I have not heard a peep from NYRA Rewards regarding the overcharge or when/if my refund will arrive.

alan said...

Dan/JK/Steve -

Thanks for those comments. Again, I'm generally inclined to defend NYRA, and I certainly agree that Megna and the state are busting their balls and looking for any excuse to criticize. However...if NYRA, by allowing customers to wager before funds actually clear, whether by check or ACH or whatever, thereby putting themselves in the position where they may not be able to collect money wagered through their system, isn't that poor control? Especially in this context in which they need to be extremely careful about everything they do?

Dan said...


I would hope when NYRA put in their Express Funding procedures they must have checked the law. Keep in mind if I am short in my account they can legally go after me plus shut down the express funding feature in my account. I agreed to this when signing up for this feature. Do I want to mess up my credit for not funding $ into my account?

They have my Social # plus my name & address. They are not giving out $ to guys walking off the "A" train.

I can't imagine they didn't check if this procedure was legal. I would hope if any losses on this would be minimal.

Dan said...

Update from NYRA on this- check out the link.

El Angelo said...

That response was fabulous. As Chris Russo would say, good job by NYRA.