Offshore Services: Rebate Shops Unfairly Characterized

Offshore wagering services issued statements Sept. 13 expressing unhappiness with the way rebate shops were portrayed in a report that led to dismissal of charges against the New York Racing Association.

The report, issued Sept. 13 by Neil Getnick, a court-appointed NYRA monitor, indicated NYRA did the right thing by cutting off rebate shops. NYRA earlier this year pulled its signal from 10 such outlets in the wake of the federal indictment that alleged race-fixing and illegal gambling.

"As a leading member of the pari-mutuel wagering industry, we are disappointed that rebate betting has unfairly become a target of the court-appointed monitor of the New York Racing Association," International Racing Group, one of the outlets named but not charged in the indictment, said in a statement. "IRG's parent company, Youbet.com, is a publicly traded company and is subject to a variety of recording and transparency measures. We are responsible to our shareholders and mindful of our employees, customers, and the racing industry.

"Youbet.com has an independent wagering compliance committee that ensures all of the company's current wagering policies are in line with the rigorous standards Youbet.com has established for its online and telephonic wagering businesses.  We take our regulatory and industry responsibilities seriously and recognize that we must continue to work with our regulators, policymakers, and industry to protect the integrity of our sport and to encourage its growth throughout the country and the world.

"IRG categorically denies any and all inferences or implications that we are engaged in any criminal activity in the operation of our business. Our company has never been accused of any wrongdoing. We are troubled that the irresponsible allegations of tax evasion and money laundering may lead to disruptions in the ongoing business relationships we have with other tracks and companies throughout this country."

IRG, based in Curacao, was purchased earlier this year by Youbet.com. The company claimed racing fans could be alienated and New York revenue reduced if NYRA-run tracks--Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga--are kept from doing business with high-volume shops that disclose operating information.

The statement said the company "continues to generate revenues for racetracks, horsemen, and regulators in almost every jurisdiction outside of New York, under standards of operation that provide for full disclosure of operating and ownership information, as well as controls to ensure we are operating in an appropriate manner."

Similarly, Racing and Gaming Services, based in St. Kitts, said it supports action taken by the industry to "ensure the integrity of racing as well as the security of wagering pools." But RGS also said: "RGS is disappointed that the monitor and NYRA have chosen to incorrectly categorize and label all rebate facilities. RGS customers, shareholders, and employees are disturbed that these allegations could be leveled at our company despite no wrongdoing whatsoever. Clearly, an entire industry should not be blamed for the wrongdoing of NYRA or any other individuals."

RGS, which hubs through Lewiston, Maine, said it has processed more than $3 billion in wagers and returned $140 million in revenue to racetracks and horsemen via "honest wagering opportunities."

"In recent months, RGS has sent transparency packages to racetracks upon request that include full disclosure of our ownership, licensing, and business practices. RGS will continue to meet or exceed the standards and practices of any account wagering facility in the industry regardless of geography or regulation," the statement said.

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