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May 9, 2014 - 2:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, sports, OTB, belmont stakes.

Press release:

Officials from Western Regional Off-Track Betting and Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning announced the winner of this year’s Belmont Stakes Trip Giveaway at the OTB Corporate headquarters in Batavia this afternoon, May 9.

The winner was chosen from the 8,000 OTB customers that signed-up at their local OTB branch on derby day for a chance to win the Belmont Stakes trip. The winner was Ron DiRose of Webster.

Ron wins hotel accommodations for two nights at the Courtyard Marriott, located 12 miles from Belmont Park and $1,000 in expense money.

“Western OTB would like to thank Bill Hayes, president of Turnbull Heating and Air for sponsoring the Belmont stakes giveaway,” said GM of Live Racing at Batavia Downs, Todd Haight. “It’s something we do each derby day and the number entries and interest in the giveaway grows every year.”

Western OTB posted record wagering handles on this year’s run for the roses, at it’s OTB locations, at Batavia Downs Gaming and it’s on-line wagering platform, Batavia Bets.com.

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Regional OTB is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia. WROTB owns and operates 30 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility.

Pictured are trip giveaway sponsor Bill Hayes, president of Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning, and Ryan Hasenauer, director of Marketing at WROTB, with the lucky drawing slip.

February 11, 2010 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, OTB, State Lottery.


The OTB is ready to do just about anything to avoid having the State Lottery pull all of the video lottery terminals from Batavia Downs Casino.

That was the message from Western OTB attorney Timothy McCarthy following a closed session meeting of the board at the casino and racetrack this morning.

"They're the boss and it's important they are treated as such and that we not get in a fight as to what we may have done," McCarthy said.

timothy_mccarthy.jpgWhile characterizing the issues raised by the State Lottery in a Feb. 3 letter to the OTB board as "procedural" and "administrative," he said the board is taking the warning very seriously and will react accordingly.

He stressed that there are no allegations of criminality or missing money.

Before the board went into closed session, McCarthy said a private meeting was necessary in order to discuss possible litigation.

After the meeting, McCarthy said there is no plan to get involved in a lawsuit, but given the nature of the enforcement action, the possibility of a hearing and the need to preserve attorney-client privilege, he thought the private session was necessary.

"We chose not to be pugnacious," McCarthy said. "We chose to try and work with the Lottery. We take the Lottery very seriously. The determination by the board was, 'let's find the best way to keep peace.' The best way to keep the peace is to go hat in hand to the Lottery. There is no benefit to be achieved by being litigious, but nevertheless, that option, as it obviously must, was considered."

McCarthy noted that Batavia Downs has provided $75 million in revenue for state schools since it opened with VLTs (slot machines) in May 2005. The Downs also provides a good deal of revenue to local government agencies.

He said the board will do what's necessary to maintain that cash flow.

"If they (board members) want to characterize it as going to the woodshed, they may very well characterize it as such," McCarthy said.

The board agreed to send a four-person delegation to Schenectady to meet with Lottery officials in order to find a solution to the threat of closure.

Among the Lottery's requests is that the Downs hire a consultant to help put the procedural and administrative issues back in order. McCarthy did not say so explicitly, but the tone and tenor of his remarks indicate a willingness to follow that advice.

The members of the delegation will be Paul Lattimore, from Cayuga County, Richard Bianchi, Monroe, Richard Siebert, Genesee and Marcia Touhey, Orleans.



September 11, 2009 - 1:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, OTB.

A spokesman for the task force reviewing Off Track Betting operations in New York wrote to The Batavian yesterday to say:

With reference to the item on the Genesee County Legislature's opposition to a purported takeover of regional Off Track Betting corporations, I wish to assure your readers that the New York State Task Force on the Future of OTB has proposed nothing of the kind.

Joseph Mahoney, public information officer for the New York State Task Force on the Future of OTB was responding to an article The Batavian posted about the Genesee County Legislature passing a resolution opposing any state takeover of OTB, specifically, Batavia Downs.

By this time, Assemblyman Steven Hawley had been very clear that there has been no discussion in Albany of any such takeover.

What I find curious was the wording of Mr. Mahoney's message to The Batavian. He said there has been no proposal. That leaves unsaid, could there be a proposal?

So I wrote back to Mr. Mahoney and asked that and other specific questions such as, "Is there anything on the table that could, possibly, maybe reduce the amount of local control, control of the current operators?"

Mr. Mahoney's response: Visit our web site

Well, among the first documents I open is the minutes from the group's first meeting, June 25, in which Chairman John Van Lindt is reported to say  that topping the list of possible outcomes of the Task Force's work is "consolidation to achieve cost savings by efficiency of operations."

To me that sounds like centralization of OTBs, which logically implies a state takeover, don't you think?

In the next meeting, Aug. 2, Van Lindt made a motion that requires OTB's to have early termination clauses in any new contracts. That sounds like a prelude to centralizing administration.

Placed on the agenda for the next meeting: "Various options for continuation of OTBs in the state, e.g., joint venture with tracks, consolidate, privatize with or without consolidation, maintain status quo."

OK, so consolidation isn't the only option, but it's on the table.

At that meeting, Aug. 25, during public comment, Charles Hayward, president the New York Racing Association, includes a suggestion to consolidate operations and overhead "(accounting, marketing, insurance etc.)."

So, Mr. Mahoney is right: There is no proposal, at least in a formal sense, to consolidate OTB operations, but the idea certainly seems to be on people's minds.

Mahoney in his initial e-mail:

The goal of the Task Force members is a clear one: They wish to increase the level of revenue produced by OTB corporations -- especially to local governments.

But Mahoney never directly answered this question, and I think it's an important one for the task force to address: "With a successful operation like Batavia Downs, why should the state intervene at all? Shouldn't we assume the current operators know what they're doing and don't need outside intervention?"

Making bigger government entities is no way to increase efficiency or improve profits for the communities that host these operations.

The allegation by critics of the task force is that this is an opening for a revenue grab by the state fueled by the failures of downstate racing and OTB operations. The task force's own meeting minutes are not terribly reassuring that there isn't some truth to that concern.

September 10, 2009 - 1:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, OTB.

The state is not looking takeover Off Track Betting operations, Assemblyman Steve Hawley said in a press release today.

“To be very clear, there have been no discussions of a state takeover of OTB and should such discussions arise, I would like all residents to know that I am strongly opposed to such an initiative, especially regarding a takeover of OTBs in Western New York,” said Hawley, who upon learning of the rumors, immediately called Western New York OTB officials to dispel the rumors.

Last night, the Genesee County Legislature passed a resolution opposing any effort by the state to take over OTB facilities, especially Batavia Downs.

Full press release follows the jump:

September 10, 2009 - 9:31am
posted by Steve Hawley in racing, steve hawley, OTB.




A member of the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) would like to assure all residents that rumors currently circulating of a state takeover of Off Track Betting (OTB) operations are untrue.  The Assemblyman has been vital in brokering racing and wagering agreements with the state, such as the new New York Racing Association (NYRA) agreement that increased revenues for Batavia Downs.


“To be very clear, there have been no discussions of a state takeover of OTB and should such discussions arise, I would like all residents to know that I am strongly opposed to such an initiative, especially regarding a takeover of OTBs in Western New York,” said Hawley, who upon learning of the rumors, immediately called Western New York OTB officials to dispel the rumors.


The state took over New York City OTB in June 2008; however, due to mounting problems, on September 1, 2009, Governor Paterson signed an executive order allowing the NYC OTB organization to file for reorganization under Chapter 9 of the federal Bankruptcy Code (executive order #27).  In that executive order, the Governor has directed NYC OTB to put together a restructuring plan within the next two months.


Contained in the 2008 legislation allowing the state to take over NYC OTB, the State Legislature also appointed a task force to study regional OTB corporations.  Their report is due later this fall.


Both of these actions have helped to fuel rumors that the task force would “rubber stamp” a rumored initiative for a state takeover to allow OTB revenues to be moved from local governments to the state’s General Fund to balance budget deficits.


In order for the state to take over OTB corporations across the state, there would need to be legislation drafted and moved through both houses.  However, at this time, there is no such legislation, nor have there been discussions to draft or introduce any legislation of the sort.


Assemblyman Hawley stated, “I can certainly understand the concern: last year the Governor swiped money from snowmobilers, this year he chose to give $200 handouts to recipients of social services instead of renewing the STAR rebate program.  Both of his budgets have been excessive in their spending, irresponsible and secretive in their negotiations. When it comes to making fiscal choices, there is a reason why New York State residents are skeptical of the Governor doing the right thing.  However, at present, I would like to ensure all residents that there have been no discussions about a state takeover of OTB operations.  Furthermore, I am adamantly against such a proposal and will fight it tooth-and-nail should such a proposal be made.”




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