Major changes are needed in state's pari-mutuel law to keep statutes in line with technological advances, New York's top racing regulator said Nov. 13 in the wake of the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6 betting probe.
Michael Hoblock, chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said more oversight of off-track betting corporations and tote companies is clearly needed. The NYSRWB handled much of the early investigation into the alleged scam.
Hoblock said that no matter what laws are enacted because of the situation, "it still would not have prevented this incident" because the crime allegedly was an inside job.
"You could be doing everything you need to do at this end," Hoblock said. "What do you do to ensure a situation like this doesn't occur? It's not unlike any other business...You have a checker check the check, but how far do you go? I guess what this shows is you've got to be ever vigilant."
Hoblock said state law regulating the horse racing industry "has not kept pace with advances in technology," and his investigators found a number of "deficiencies and vulnerabilities" in the pari-mutuel system during the course of the probe. He declined to elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation.
But Hoblock said stricter procedures involving OTB companies and tote companies are needed. The state, for instance, does not license people who work at such betting outlets, though they require extensive background checks of everyone from jockeys to painters who work at racetracks.
The racing board can't require an audit of a tote company, and the system for how wagers such as the pick six are handled by OTB parlors and tote companies varies widely across the state, officials said.
"Are there things that can be done in the law to tighten this up? Always," Hoblock said. "The question is whether that is sufficient."
The state for years has been trying to bolster the racing board's ability to better monitor OTB corporations, and the pick six probe could make that happen in the coming legislative session.
"They've got to be accountable to someone," Hoblock said of the OTB corporations. "We need to strengthen the oversight of pari-mutuel activities of the OTBs...This has served as a wake-up call to the racing industry."
Hoblock said part of the push to resolve the matter so quickly was to show to the betting public that the system is safe. "It's kind of like a bank robbery," he said. "You want to be assured that your bank where you're putting your money is secured."