11/30/2006 12:00AM

New York audit calls for escalating fines

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An audit of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board that was completed earlier this year by the state comptroller's office and released on Thursday recommended that the board assess penalties on an escalating basis for repeat offenders.

The audit made 15 other recommendations to the board, the state agency that oversees the state's racing industry and has broad powers to grant licenses and issue penalties for rules violations. The audit noted that the board has already taken steps to address most of the recommendations, which were minor.

The recommendation to levy escalating fines came after auditors could not find a trend at most state racetracks in which penalties increased for multiple offenders. Dan Toomey, a spokesman for the board, said that while the board has noted the recommendation, it has also told auditors that its stewards and judges should be able to assess fines on a case-by-case basis without strict guidelines.

"The board believes that our officials should have discretion, because no two cases are alike in severity," Toomey said. "That being said, we have told our stewards and judges to consider issuing stiffer penalties to multiple offenders to discourage misconduct."

The comptroller's office periodically conducts audits of state agencies. The audit of the racing and wagering board was conducted in 2004.