Updated on 04/14/2012 10:22AM

Tote mistake on Keeneland races costs NYRA bettors

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Bettors at Aqueduct and Belmont and patrons of the New York Racing Association’s account-wagering operation who cashed tickets on Keeneland races on Friday and Saturday received erroneous payouts, NYRA said on Wednesday. United Tote, NYRA’s bet-processing company, has taken “full responsibility for the error,” NYRA said.

The error, which affected all 10 races on Keeneland’s Friday card and the first two races on Keeneland’s Saturday card, resulted in a $10,000 total underpayment to bettors who cashed tickets on the 12 races, according to a NYRA official. It occurred after the bet-processing company incorrectly applied takeout rates for Turfway Park in Kentucky to the Keeneland signal, the official said. Turfway’s rates are higher than Keeneland’s, with one exception, the pick four.

As a result, payouts for win, place, and show bets were subjected to a 17.5 percent takeout, rather than a 16 percent takeout; exotic bets were subjected to a 22 percent takeout, rather than a 19 percent takeout; and the pick four was subjected to a 14 percent takeout, rather than a 19 percent takeout.

United Tote has sent letters to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission acknowledging its fault in the error.

Ben Murr, the president of United Tote, said on Thursday that the company is reviewing the incident and that “we are meeting with all our field supervisors, NYRA, and Keeneland to ensure that this never happens again.”

When asked why it took until Saturday to determine that the wrong takeout rates were applied, Murr said he would not comment.

Greg Lamb, the supervisor of parimutuel wagering for the KHRC, confirmed on Wednesday that he had received a letter from United Tote taking responsibility for the error. He said that a preliminary investigation into the error had determined that the Turfway Park rates were applied to the races, as the NYRA official said.

Although the mistake most prominently affected the NYRA bettors, the rates did have a small but measurable impact on payouts for Keeneland races across the country because of a system that began to be adopted at U.S. sites in the mid-2000s called net-pool pricing. The system allows sites to apply their own takeout rates to simulcast wagers, and also allows for the acceptance of bets in different currencies.

Bettors at NYRA sites typically account for approximately 3 to 4 percent of every Keeneland pool, according to Lamb.

In a statement, NYRA said that United Tote is recalculating the prices for the Keeneland bets and that credits will be applied to any affected NYRA One accounts. In addition, NYRA will attempt to identify any patrons who filled out tax forms related to any Keeneland payout for the affected races so that they may be reimbursed, and it will pay out the correct prices for any outstanding tickets.

Last December, NYRA said it had incorrectly calculated payouts on superexotic bets for the previous 18 months because it had failed to reset its takeout rate to 25 percent when a law providing for a 26 percent takeout expired. The error drew criticism from regulators and fans, and as a result, NYRA lowered its superexotic takeout to 24 percent, one point below the legal maximum. 

Correction: A previous version of this article mischaracterized the incident involving incorrect takeout rates for Keeneland races on Friday and Saturday. The incorrect takeout rates at Keeneland are in no way similar to the incorrect takeout rates involving NYRA last December. United Tote has taken full responsibility for incorrect payouts for the Keeneland races, and NYRA is not under scrutiny for the incident.