Empire City gambler complaints spark internal probe

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After numerous customers complained that a $350,000 giveaway at Empire City at Yonkers Raceway may have been fixed, officials have started an internal probe.

Thousands of customers gathered at Empire City on August 25 with hopes of winning the $350,000 promotional giveaway called ?Play Off Your Mortgage.? However, soon after the guests arrived, there was a computer malfunction that left many gamblers confused and angry.

?At 3:10 the [Players Club] cards stopped working in all the machines,? Florence Balint says. ?Nobody?s cards were working.?

Empire City had been giving away $10,000 an hour when the computers malfunctioned. In order to win the money, players had to be present and have their club cards in a machine. However, the machine that reads the cards was not working properly. ?People were going crazy because nobody was answering our questions,? Balint says.

Empire City officials confirm that there was indeed a malfunction that day, but they?re unsure if it was a glitch or if someone deliberately tampered with the system, a scenario many gamblers have since voiced their suspicion of.

Adding to gamblers? suspicions was Manhattan resident Bette Slutsky, who won two large prizes the same day.

?The lady won $10,000 at 8 o?clock and then she won $250,000 an hour later,? Balint says. ?That?s when people went, ?This is ridiculous. Something is wrong.? Everybody thought something is wrong.?

Balint was one of the many gamblers who complained, sparking the internal investigation. Sources say as many as four raceway promotions workers could be fired and possibly arrested as a result of the probe. Empire City?s Assistant General Manager Michael Taylor assures customers that any wrongdoing will be taken care of.

?If we uncover any sort of inappropriate activity we will deal with it very seriously,? Taylor says. ?Anything?s possible, but at this point there?s nothing showing that there was any inappropriate activity.? Taylor says officials are reviewing every drawing that took place that day, but so far everything points to a system malfunction.

Balint hopes the issue was a malfunction, for Empire City?s sake. ?If I feel it?s fixed I won?t go there at all, period,? she says.

Taylor admits that even though the problem was likely a computer bug, the issue was handled in the wrong manner by some casino workers. He says to try to win back gamblers, the casino will do all their future promotions on paper, not using computers. Officials also plan to give away an additional $100,000 to make up for the disputed drawings.

Empire City gamblers say $350K promotion was fixed

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