by Garnet Barnsdale
This past week at Mohawk Racetrack there was someone – likely one bettor based on observed betting patterns – that was manipulating the tote system by placing large wagers and cancelling them on several races.
What this wagering activity resulted in, was wild fluctuations in the odds on contenders and non-contenders alike which made it very difficult for a bettor to predict what the final odds might be prior to making a wager. The natives were restless, to say the least as I was getting tweets and Facebook messages asking me what was going on and why this was allowable.
Keith, with the Twitter handle @LEGENDBETS, posed this question in a tweet: Why do the keep allowing cancelled wagering in the win pools? He wasn’t the only one noticing. Punter Mark Deutsch posted these comments in the Facebook group “Woodbine/Harness Handicapping Group”: “The odd time I cancel a small bet. Nothing more than 10 bucks. But, when I do, they give you a message telling you that they monitor the accounts and that they might do something if you abuse that feature. Clearly, someone is putting in large bets and pulling some of them to manipulate the tote board. 5k on Kiwi Focus then much of it pulled. They should suspend that account, or refuse to cancel the bet to teach them a lesson. Its becoming a big problem for this track.”
The race that Deutsch posted about was one that bothered me, too, because Kiwi Focus was one of my top plays of the week. Here was my comment on her in my DRF Harness analysis: (8) KIWI FOCUS N paced a phenomenal mile last time, battling challenges from start to finish and still almost winning. A slightly easier trip gets her a win here. I felt if I could get a price around 6-5 or higher on Kiwi Focus that I would make a sizeable wager. But with thousands of dollars being wagered on her then backed out of the mutuels, I found it impossible to predict the price I might get, so I cut my bet substantially then watched her jog at odds of 3-2.
Clearly, someone was manipulating the tote placing and canceling large bets and some of the betting public were voicing their displeasure. Here is what it says in the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency’s regulations regarding canceling of bets:
(1) No association shall, on request of a person, cancel a bet and provide a refund to that person except in accordance with this section.
(2) Subject to subsections (5) and (6), where a person requests the cancellation of a bet, the association shall cancel the bet and provide a refund to the person if the request and cancellation take place before the betting on the race has closed.
(3) Where a person who makes a bet claims immediately upon receiving a ticket that the ticket is incorrect, the association shall cancel the bet and provide a refund to the person.
(4) Where an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that, on request of a person, the cancellation and refund of a bet made to that person may impact negatively on the integrity of the betting, the officer shall order the association to refuse to cancel and refund the bet.
(5) No association shall, on request of a person, cancel a bet and provide a refund to that person where
(a) that association has reasonable grounds to believe that the cancellation and refund of the bet may impact negatively on the integrity of the betting; or
(b) an officer orders the association to refuse to cancel and refund the bet under subsection (4).
(6) In order to prevent the cancellation of a bet from distorting or manipulating information displayed to the public in respect of a pool, a permit issued under subsection 6(1) shall contain the following conditions based on an historical record of the relevant betting patterns of an association and the horse racing industry:
(a) a threshold monetary amount of a bet above which an association may not, on request of a person, cancel the bet unless the person provides satisfactory proof of the person’s identity; and
(b) time limits, in reference to the betting on a race, outside of which an association may not, on request of a person, cancel a bet.
Based on the events of the past week and the regulations governing the cancelation of bets, it seems pretty obvious that action needs to be taken on at least one bettor. The ball’s in the CPMA’s court, or Woodbine’s, or both. The time to act on this is now.