05/01/2012 3:18PM

My Statement On the NYRA Takeout Issue


Last August 1st, a reader sent me a note saying, as I understood it, that due to the expiration of legislation, NYRA could now ask the State Racing and Wagering Board for a takeout reduction if it wanted to. I forwarded the note to NYRA’s CEO, Charlie Hayward, asking him, “Is this true?” He responded by e-mail that the reader was correct and then went on to say – prefaced with the words “off the record” --- that NYRA had not asked for a reduction yet because he did not think it would be approved due to various other political battles going on. He then asked me to keep “these details” of those political reasons confidential and said he wanted to discuss the issue and the possible forms of takeout reduction with me further.

He never did, and the next thing I heard about the matter was several months later in December, when an auditor discovered that NYRA had in fact been overcharging by applying an incorrect takeout rate on some bets for more than a year. It turned out that the rate should have automatically been changed 14 months earlier, not just that NYRA had become eligible to request a change in the rates.

This was news to me, and I personally believe this was news to Hayward. I can think of no reason why he would have concealed that knowledge, and I believe that had he known the wrong rate was being applied, he would have gotten it changed immediately. He has consistently been a proponent of lower takeout throughout the decades I have known him, and had opposed the very increase that had expired. State investigators, and some readers, may believe otherwise, but I find it completely implausible that he would deliberately overcharge bettors for more than a year and think it would never be discovered.

Nor do I understand what possible motive I would have for tolerating or agreeing to overlook such overcharging – I would love to have been the guy who caught the error and reported it on the front page of Daily Racing Form and corrected the rates and gotten some people (including myself) their money back sooner. With hindsight, I regret that I didn’t follow up on the issue. But I personally do not believe Hayward knowingly overcharged his customers, and it never even occurred to me that might be happening. I assure you that I was completely unaware this was going on, and never would have tolerated it or agreed to be silent about it if I had.

Vivian Warfield More than 1 year ago
Could you please explain why NYRA says that the wagering companies are the ones who need to refund the money to its customers, that the companies have the money not NYRA? Twinspires states they are waiting on NYRA, NYRA says Twinspires kept the money. Meanwhile, the betters are getting short changed (shocking!!). I have never seen a business with such total contempt for its customers as the tracks and betting platforms except perhaps government agencies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bet made through a wagering company, commonly know as AWD- Advanced Wagering Deposit, would have record of the player(s) bet that was made during the time period where the pay off of a bet made at NYRA check should have paid more due to the reduced take out handle percentage. Actually, just one per cent. Accordingly, if one were to be credited for making a correct bet, NYRA would have to: 1) Determine the calendar window where bets were made where the additional 1% would apply. 2) Calculate the 'additional payout'. 3) Provide a gross additional dollar amount to the ADW's with the caveat/contract that they would reimburse (pay additional winnings on tickets of record already paid.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
the incompetence and dishonesty in racing is incredible,to the point where its difficult to judge wich of the two is taking place at any given time,nyra as a cronic offender needs to fire everybody and start over with a new crew,but the problem is pervasive in racing,from the big problems such as stealing from its customers by allowing wrong takeouts or inside people creating winning tickets for themselves like the scandal of a few years back,to the small stuff like for example at charlestown the other day they put up the horse that finished 3rd(the 8 horse) in the 2nd spot,and then to make matters worse put up the place foto as between the 8 and the 3 ,the problem was the 3 finished last in the race beaten some 20 lenghts,how he ended up in a photo for place is incredible,the result ended up 7,8,5 when it should have been 7,5,8,this is the kind of crap horseplayers put up with everyday,and they wonder why people are giving up on the sport.
Alfred Disidoro More than 1 year ago
Steve, it is time to clean house at NYRA and to all those writers who cover up for them. These people have completely killed the sport of racing in New York. Cheap claimers, many bad maiden races, very short fields, and unfit horses are common place at least ten months of the year. Why continue to run in the winter? Where was everyone including yourself when a horse a day was going down. Thank God the governor stepped in. Let's put the word SPORT back into New York racing. We are slowly ending up where roller derby is in our Sunday sport pages!
wilson More than 1 year ago
Surely Mr. Christ spends most of his time trying to stay on top of the US horse population and trusted NYRA and the regulators to do their jobs. I'm waiting for the As, Bs, and Cs for Saturday.
David Fox More than 1 year ago
First, I note that someone removed the "Presented by NYRA" graphic that was below the blog headline on the home page. I'm sure others found that as amusingly ironic as I did. I've been a big fan, Steve, but I just can't understand how you and Hayward failed to comprehend "outside the parameters of the law". From Hayward's perspective, knowing that the sharks were circling NYRA, you'd think that his first priority would be OBEYING THE LAW. Through his incompetence, and perhaps your complicity, the weapon to dismantle NYRA has been delivered into the hands of the state. Perhaps out of the ashes of NYRA, an organization will be created that simply operates the damned tracks and stays the hell out of the politics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OH! We could only wish! But, that is highly unlikely! Best to take what one can rescue and fight for more from there. Better NOT to re-invent the wheel!!!
WTF More than 1 year ago
I prefer Playing Retama,Sam Houston,LStar, because I like their 12% takeout. They need to lower the takeout significantly across the board. They're too high. Takeouts rates determines what type bets I make and where I play. This game is too hard to ignore takeout rate. I'm from Philly and I don't play PA tracks due to high takeout.
WTF More than 1 year ago
Mr.Crist You're a good write and excellent Horse man. But in this case, why is it Big Business always makes a mistake in their favor? They knew 100%.
Karusha More than 1 year ago
Just another in a long line of executive 'lapses' by NYRA and it's board. I say, banish them to Charlestown or Bowie and get some folks in that understand the bettors AND the horsemen. Hayward and his underlings need a realty check. And that check should be 2 weeks salary and dismissal.
mjv1230 More than 1 year ago
My theory is that Steve had the email exchange with Hayward (remember, this is during the Saratoga meet), then completely forgot about the substance of Hayward's reply because he was jonesing for a Hattie's fried chicken sandwich. I blame it on Hattie's!!!!
Chris Garrity More than 1 year ago
With the politicians and the New York Times on one side, and Steve Crist and Charlie Heyward on the other, I know who I'm going to believe. Thank you for posting this, Steve. Your record, and Charlie's, over a long period of time, speaks for itself. Can we now get back to handicapping the Derby and Oaks cards?
Neal Baker More than 1 year ago
You're kidding right Chris ? Check out the Times' "track" record in uncovering wrongdoing and compare that with NYRA's record in helping horseplayers.
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
Sorry, the Times loses all credibility when they decide to ignore wrongdoing because it doesn't suit their political preference.