02/23/2006 12:00AM

NYRA: $3K deposits require ID

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The New York Racing Association has recently begun enforcing an internal reporting rule that requires all customers who make cash deposits or wagers in excess of $3,000 to provide identifying information to mutuel personnel, NYRA officials confirmed Thursday.

The rule, which NYRA officials said was put in place recently in order to track potential money launderers, goes well beyond federal cash reporting requirements that are triggered at $10,000 per transaction. NYRA officials said that the new reports are not filed with the Internal Revenue Service, but are instead stored in case of records are requested by federal authorities.

NYRA has also recently put in place a reporting procedure that requires mutuel clerks to alert supervisors if a customer makes multiple cash transactions in one day that either exceed a total of $10,000 or "look suspicious," according to Pat Mahony, NYRA's vice president of parimtuel operations. According to Mahony, those reports would include a physical description of the bettor, but not necessarily the bettors' name, social security number, or other identifying information.

Mahony said Thursday that NYRA instituted the $3,000 reporting requirement last October on the advice of outside counsel, but that the association only recently stepped up its enforcement efforts after several cash transactions in excess of $10,000 were not reported by mutuel clerks, in violation of the federal reporting requirements.

"The $3,000 threshold is not something we pulled out of thin air," Mahony said. "We've been advised by counsel that we are supposed to do this."

The new reports have the potential to alienate legitimate big bettors at NYRA tracks. Reporting requirements that would entail asking a customer for identifying information below the $10,000 federal trigger is not in place at any other betting outlet in New York, including the state's six offtrack betting companies, OTB officials said on Thursday.

Over the past four years, two dozen mutuel employees at NYRA tracks have been convicted of tax-fraud and money-laundering crimes. The convictions led to NYRA accepting an agreement with federal prosecutors that required the association to reform its cash-handling policies and restructure its management.

Federal rules require that most cash transactions in excess of $10,000 be reported to the IRS. The internal reporting requirements at NYRA are triggered only when a person either wagers at least $3,000 in cash at the track or if the person purchases a voucher in excess of $3,000, Mahony said. The reports are not required if a payout exceeds $3,000, nor are the reports required if a person exceeds the $3,000 limit on a wager through NYRA's account-wagering operation, NYRA One.

Mahony said it was unclear yet if the new reporting requirements have had an impact on handle at NYRA's tracks or through NYRA One.

"Like it or not, we have to do it as a good business practice," Mahony said. "Whether or not that is going to make our bettors look elsewhere, only time will tell."