SHIZUOKA -- A municipal bicycle racing track here mistakenly forked over more than 2 million yen (about $19,000) on a winning betting ticket worth one-tenth that, and the central Japan city is asking the recipient to return the difference.
According to a Jan. 8 announcement by the Shizuoka Municipal Government, an unidentified man collected the sum from Shizuoka Keirin velodrome in the city's Suruga Ward on Dec. 31 at shortly past 10 a.m. The man had made a winning off-track wager on a KEIRIN Grand Prix 2020 race held the day before at the Hiratsuka Keirin velodrome in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo.
According to the city's public race office, an employee entered 2,002,000 yen -- 10 times the actual 200,200-yen dividend -- on a payment slip and handed the money to the man. The staffer noticed the mistake shortly afterward, but the man had already pocketed the cash and left.
Because the counter was crowded that day, the employee was reportedly handling payouts on their own. Filling out the payment slips is supposed to be done by at least two people, according to the city's operating manual.
"This is difficult to say seeing as this is our mistake, but we would like the person to return the money," said a city official.
If the man does not come forward and repay the difference, the Shizuoka Municipal Government will have to tap its budget to pay the balance of some 1.8 million yen (about $17,300) to the Hiratsuka Municipal Government, which organized the KEIRIN Grand Prix 2020. The city of Shizuoka is considering filing a damage report with Shizuoka Prefectural Police.
"It's the first time we've seen such a huge overpay. We worked so hard to sell the (betting) tickets, so we're disappointed. It's difficult to identify the recipient, and we're in trouble," lamented a Shizuoka city official in charge of public races.
(Japanese original by Yukina Furukawa, Shizuoka Bureau)