ON-course bookmaker, Jim Desmond, yesterday lashed out at Horse Racing Ireland, in the aftermath of the Ger Dalton affair at Listowel last Saturday.
Fellow bookmaker Dalton ran out of money and didn’t bet on the final race, leaving many punters out of pocket to the tune of thousands of euro.
Said Desmond: “Let’s make it clear this was not a problem caused by Listowel racecourse, but is a perfect example of terrible management by HRI over the years.
“On May 11 of this year, I spent 45 minutes on the phone to Paul Finegan (manager of HRI betting division) on the problem of bookmakers not paying bets.
“We spoke about nine different bookmakers who were not paying as they should. As I felt I was getting nowhere, I then wrote letters to the Racing Post and the Irish Field regarding this problem.
“On May 29 Mr Finegan indicated that HRI was not aware of any problems. Yesterday he was then quoted as saying that this (Dalton’s failure to honour winning bets at Listowel) was the first instance in 20 years.
“What he could have said was that the HRI betting division has been asleep for many years.
“It’s vital for us bookmakers to treat our valued customers as best we can, but HRI are operating a system where some of us have every ‘i’ dotted, and ‘t’ crossed and, at the same time, turning a blind eye at others who write their own rules.
“If you park your car in the wrong place at a racecourse their is a clear, loud announcement it will be towed away.
“When a horse is withdrawn from a race during betting, resulting in a rule four, it’s often barely audible. Frequently rule fours are not called until 10 minutes after the race. Why?
“At every greyhound meeting, over the last 40 years, the levy person collects a card after the last race which gives the total amount of bets taken by bookmakers.
“In this era of computers, two HRI staff still go around collecting our holdings after every race. By pressing two buttons any bookmaker can produce a print out after the final event.
“What are HRI betting division doing about the huge amount of wagering that goes on at every racecourse without levy being paid?
“When will the paying public be made aware of what a stewards inquiry is all about, rather than having to ring someone at home watching TV?
“HRI is getting millions of euro and refusing to implement simple changes that will make racing more enjoyable for everyone. HRI it is way past the time to get off the pot.
“Finally, the nine bookmakers, which Mr Finegan and I spoke about in May, should not be standing, but are still operating under his watch as the HRI betting manager.”
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