Who Can You Trust?

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 23, 2008 in General Discussion, News | No Comments >>

Nearly a half-million dollars from hundreds of betting accounts is in limbo after a New Hampshire rebate shop declared bankruptcy.

The Hinsdale Greyhound Racing Association, which handled significantly more money on Thoroughbred racing as a rebate shop than dog racing, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Monday. The filing lists hundreds of bettors, including Herschel Bird who is owed $138,150, as creditors.

Creditors believed to be bettors are owed more than $450,000. Another listed creditor is well-known horse racing author and handicapper Andy Beyer, who could be out $20,440.

“I’ve already written that money off,” Beyer said. “I don’t expect to ever see it again.”

Like many bettors at the New Hampshire rebate shop, Beyer was committed to keeping his money in the pari-mutuel pools. Besides supporting the industry, Beyer thought his money would be safe with a licensed operator, compared with an offshore bookmaker.

“I’ve always been wary of the offshore operations. You don’t know if they are going to be there from one day to the next,” Beyer said. “I thought they were too dangerous.”

Joe Riddell, a co-owner of Premier Turf Club, a licensed advance-deposit wagering outlet based in North Dakota, said a major selling point licensed ADWs have in customer competition with off-shore bookmakers is stability. The Hinsdale bankruptcy, specifically its lack of protection of bettors’ funds, has shaken many top bettors.

“We’ve received a lot of phone calls. People are really concerned,” Riddell said. “This has to be addressed.”

While Premier Turf Club players were reassured, Riddell said host tracks often take months to pay off winning wagers, leaving ADW companies to make up the difference until the cash arrives. Just this month his company received some April payouts.

A similar situation was documented in the November 2006 New York Racing Association bankruptcy. In that instance, several ADWs were owed money. At the time, Riddell advocated a system in which all ADW fees owed to tracks and all winnings owed to ADWs would be squared each week.

“Nothing has changed,” Riddell said.

In one of its first motions in United States Bankruptcy Court, District of New Hampshire, Hinsdale asked to be excluded from paying any creditors with $10 or less in their accounts. This would represent 288 customers who will never see their money.

Many bettors are owed significantly more. While a deal could be struck to return some of that money, affected bettors are in for a long wait until a plan is reached. Even then, as Beyer said, “I’m not holding my breath.”

Through December 13, Hinsdale has handled $22,250,089 in simulcast Thoroughbred wagers. That figure is down 34.8% from $34,136,602 during the same period last year.

Several of Hinsdale’s biggest bettors—including Bird—list Nevada addresses. Nevada residents are not permitted to wager through out-of-state ADW providers.

The New Hampshire Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission and lawyers representing Hinsdale were not immediately available for comment.

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