The Illinois Racing Board, without prior notice and over the angry objections of some track operators, on Nov. 12 slapped an immediate ban on wagers involving more than three races. It also put off licensing two tote companies for next year.
Assistant executive director Marc Laino said the action was a direct response to questionable wagering on the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6 and a lack of response by tote companies to the IRB about corrective action.
The board also deferred action on licensing Autotote and AmTote for 2003.
"We haven't heard a word from them about what they're doing," Laino said.
The ban on Pick 4 through Pick 9 wagering was not included on the board's agenda, and track officials said they had no advance notice it would be considered. Thomas Carey III, operations director for Hawthorne Race Course, said the board's sudden action raised many issues for his track, which has an $11,000 carryover on the line.
"This means my patrons won't have a chance to get their money back," he said. "I'm sure I'll have patrons knocking on my door."
Arlington president Steve Sexton said tote companies are moving quickly to fix problems related to multiple-race wagers, and told the board its ban went too far.
"When somebody robs a bank," Sexton said, "you don't close all the banks."
The ban applies both to wagers originating in Illinois and to those from out of state. Illinois patrons, therefore, will be barred immediately from making pick six wagers from Hollywood Park and other tracks where rollovers often result in large, attractive pools.
The board did not set a time limit for lifting the ban. Laino and several board members said they need to be convinced the problems are fixed before they will reverse course.
Both Carey and Sexton said they support any steps that will ensure the integrity of racing. But Sexton said: "In the future, we would appreciate communication from the staff in advance so we can properly communicate with our customers."