PAUL FINEGAN, betting division manager of Horse Racing Ireland, yesterday responded to claims made by on-course bookmaker Jim Desmond in the Irish Examiner on Thursday.
Desmond had heavily criticised HRI, following the “Dixie’’ Dalton debacle at Listowel last Saturday, when the bookmaker was unable to meet some 30,000 of liabilities.
Said Finegan: “I wish to clarify a number of issues which have entered the public domain, following publicity around the alleged non-payment of winning bets by a bookmaker, Mr Dalton, at the Listowel Festival. We are treating these allegations very seriously and are determined that all questions in relation to this matter will be answered.
“I am not in a position to comment in detail on Mr Dalton’s affairs, because we are carrying out an investigation which, after due-process, will refer its findings to the Bookmakers’ Committee of Horse Racing Ireland. This committee has the power to suspend or revoke the permit of any bookmaker ‘who fails or neglects to pay or credit to a person an amount due to the person’.
“Another on-course bookmaker, Jim Desmond, has stated that HRI and its betting division are turning a ‘blind eye’ to unpaid levy and non-payment of bets by ‘nine bookmakers’.
“I dispute his claim that he reported nine bookmakers’ names to me and I refute the allegation that we are ignoring unpaid levy. “I invite Mr Desmond to tell me who the nine bookmakers are and to substantiate his allegations.
“There is a system in place, at every race meeting, for the resolution of disputes between punters and bookmakers. We deal with all such complaints received and I repeat that the record of over 20 years shows that there has never yet been a significant unresolved dispute.
“What happened in Listowel is unprecedented and Mr Dalton still has an absolute obligation to make good all outstanding payments to people who placed winning bets with him. Our priority is to protect the integrity of on-course betting and we are determined to resolve this matter in the shortest possible time.’’
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