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Office of the New York State Comptroller

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Department of Agriculture and Markets
Electronic Ticket Sales at the 2011 New York State Fair (Issued 6/20/12)


Purpose
To assess the accuracy and security of the electronic ticketing system used for Midway ride sales at the 2011 New York State Fair. The audit covers the period January 1, 2011 through October 27, 2011.

Background
The Department of Agriculture and Markets contracts with a private vendor – Strates Shows, Inc. (Strates) – to provide and operate Midway rides at the annual State Fair. In 2011, Strates debuted an electronic ticketing system that uses wireless devices to scan bar-coded cards and wristbands that patrons can purchase and refill at ticket booths. The system replaced the traditional rolls of paper tickets sold at the Fair, which had to be weighed and counted on a daily basis to reconcile reported revenues, and therefore were vulnerable to various types of fraud, including counterfeiting.

Key Findings

  • The electronic ticketing system worked as intended, and was properly installed and operated by Strates to provide appropriate security over the system and the sensitive data it contained. Midway sales and related commissions due under the contract were also properly reported, calculated and paid to the Fair in a timely manner.
  • Even though inclement weather from the remnants of Hurricanes Irene and Lee caused overall Fair attendance to decline by about 8 percent, Midway ride sales actually increased. For the 10 days when weather was not a factor, sales rose by $250,000; an increase of over 13 percent.
  • In our opinion, the increase in revenue is due in large part to the effectiveness of the new system in reducing opportunities for fraud and abuse.

Key Recommendations

  • When contracting for amusement services such as the Midway rides at the Fair, require vendors use an electronic ticketing system.
  • Analyze opportunities to implement similar electronic ticketing systems to reduce the risk of fraud and abuse associated with other events and activities held at the Fairgrounds.

Link to full audit report (2011-S-37)

Link to 90-day response

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Department of Agriculture and Markets: Controls Over State Fair Revenues Report 2010-S-52
Office of Children and Family Services: Mobile Devices with Sensitive Information are Not Secure Report 2010-S-19
Industrial Exhibit Authority: Controls Over Trade Agreements Report 2008-S-91
Department of Agriculture and Markets: Controls Over State Fair Payroll Report 2007-S-130


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Brian Mason
Phone:(518) 474-3271; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236