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May 14, 2018 - 3:08pm

Batavia Downs already preparing to offer sports betting now that court has cleared the way

posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, news, sports, Gambling.

There is some preliminary work to be done, including changes in state law, before Batavia Downs can start offering legal sports betting but Western OTB President Henry F. Wojtaszek said the racetrack is eager to offer a type of gaming customers have long wanted locally.

"It’s clearly something our customers clearly want," Wojtaszek said. "We've seen it in our petitions and our surveys."

State Senator John J. Bonacic has introduced Senate Bill 7900 to amend that state gaming laws would allow sports betting at the state's existing four casinos and Wojtaszek said he expects Batavia Downs to be included in the legal changes. 

Batavia Downs, under an agreement between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Seneca Nation, cannot call itself a casino and cannot offer table games like a casnio but Wojtaszek said he doesn't anticipate a similar problem with sports betting.

"That should not be a problem," Wojtaszek said. "There has never been any prohibition and there have been no exclusive rights granted to the Senecas regarding sports betting so I don't anticipate an issue."

The possibility of sports wagering at Batavia Downs is possible because the Supreme Court struck down a federal statute that prevented states from offering and regulating sports betting as each state saw fit.

New York has long been ready to take advantage of any potential change in federal law and Batavia has been preparing for the idea right along. They've identified an area on the second floor as a sports betting parlor and Wojtaszek said he anticipates sports wagering kiosks in Rush 34 and other select spots in the facility.

Sports betting will not only appeal to current Batavia Downs customers, Wojtaszek said, but also to a whole new set of customers who will appreciate a good, safe, legal atmosphere for sports wagering.

"It's definitely part of the experience that people can come in with their friends, eat, drink, and watch a game and place a wager on it," Wojtaszek said. "There are people already into that and now they will have a nice legal spot to do it, which will only enhance the experience."

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