02/27/2016 11:52PM

Giwner: Flawed NY wagering rules strike again


On Monday, February 15 at Yonkers Raceway racing was cancelled after the seventh race and many bettors were left scratching their heads. All bets were refunded on the $10,000 guaranteed pick five which commenced in race seven.

We'll get into the logic of whether bets should have been refunded later. The key issue here is the lack of an explanation or easily accessible rules governing the pick five. I reviewed the NY Gaming Commission rule book and had a hard time finding any concrete evidence as to how a cancellation in the pick five should be handled.  There were clear rules on the pick four, pick seven, pick eight and pick nine, but nothing on the pick five.

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After reaching out to the Racing Commission, I was told that rule 4122.49 is a coverall: “In addition to the types of wagers authorized by this Part, an association or corporation may, with the prior permission of the commission, offer any type of pari-mutuel wagering as defined by chapter 9, Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Uniform Rules of Racing, as adopted and published in December, 1996 by the Association of Racing Commissioners International…”

The RCI Model rules which govern the pick 5 in this case state: “The Pick (n) pool shall be cancelled and all Pick (n) wagers for the individual performance shall be refunded if: (a) at least two contests included as part of a Pick 3 are cancelled or declared "no contest." (b) at least three contests included as part of a Pick 4, Pick 5 or Pick 6 are  cancelled or declared "no contest." (c) at least four contests included as part of a Pick 7, Pick 8 or Pick 9 are cancelled or declared "no contest." (d) at least five contests included as part of a Pick 10 are cancelled or declared "no contest."

It is nice to find out that everything was handled in accordance with the rules, but it would be better if in the future it was made clear from the get-go without having to investigate.

As far as the logic behind the refund, I'm baffled. The main issue revolves around the number of people that just toss out their tickets after their horse loses the first leg. Let’s remember that NYS rules do not allow for a consolation payoff in the pick five, which means if you don’t select five winners you lose. So how many poor customers at the track or simulcast locations do you think lost the first leg and ripped up their tickets? It's not like there was an immediate announcement after the first leg to hold all tickets. There was a long gap between the finish of race seven and the cancellation announcement. I’d say about 20 minutes until an official notification and another 15-20 minutes before patrons were notified of the refund.

It seems to me that the fairest way to handle any wager which cannot have a consolation payout and involves multiple legs is to pay off all people who have the winners of the contested legs.

Interestingly, if the bet would have been a pick four, the track would be required to pay all customers who had the winner of the first leg per rule 4122.46-g-5.

Don’t you just love inconsistency?