New York’s Aqueduct Racetrack was the site of a brazen, late-night robbery of more than $250,000 by two bandits wearing protective surgical masks Saturday. Questions are surfacing if it was an inside job, according to local news reports.
The robbers, both armed with pistols, approached three New York Racing Association (NYRA) employees who were taking the money through a corridor in the Queens, New York racetrack, AM New York Metro reported, based on police statements.
The unarmed security guards and an employee were moving the money between the first and second floors of the racetrack clubhouse, news reports said. The bandits forced the employees to a vacant room where the cash and workers’ cellphones were stolen, AM New York added.
The holdup took place about 10 p.m. That is four hours after the last race of the day, the New York Post reported.
An Aqueduct worker further told the Post the robbery may have been an inside job. The bandits had knowledge of the money transfer process.
The money was moved from a counting room through a catwalk to an elevator that takes workers up to a vault, the Post reported.
It’s a joke. They waited for them upstairs on the catwalk,” the worker told the Post.
“It happened on the catwalk. They knew when they were bringing down the money and [that the guards escorting the money] didn’t have no guns.
“The guards in the vault area and the office, they have guns. But the guard escorting the money ain’t got no gun,” the worker told the newspaper.
The suspects still were being sought by authorities Sunday evening. Police on Sunday were also reviewing video and photos taken by the track’s surveillance cameras.
Police officers also interviewed workers who were at the track when the robbery took place. The officers were also seen searching garbage containers this weekend, aided by flashlights, the Post reported.
Aqueduct is in the same location where Resorts World New York City Casino is situated. Initial news reports mistakenly said the Genting-operated casino was the target of the holdup.
In recent months, there were several robberies of players at Resorts World. For instance, a solitary bandit stole over $2,000 from a 91-year-old man inside the casino on Feb. 2.
Protective Masks a Concern for Gaming Properties
Since the coronavirus outbreak, it is more common to see people wearing surgical masks. Players and visitors to gaming properties in Las Vegas, Washington state, and California are placing protective masks on their faces sporadically in an apparent effort to reduce the risk of exposure to the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus.
Last week, Washington state’s Little Creek Casino Resort security staff asked a husband and wife in their 70s to take off their protective face masks. The couple was upset by the request.
It was an apparent effort to enforce security procedures in the Shelton tribal gaming property despite the threat of coronavirus.
Resorts World Wants to Expand Gaming
Both Resorts World and MGM Resorts International want expanded gaming in the metropolitan New York City region. MGM acquired the Yonkers, New York Empire City Casino last year for $850 million from the Rooney family.
MGM has attempted to get New York State officials to allow downstate casinos licenses before 2023. That is when a current moratorium is set to end.
Resorts World and MGM last year both offered $500 million in licensing fees for expanded gaming. They also could pay upstate casinos, which are struggling financially.