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First-quarter financials have Batavia Downs Gaming officials predicting another record year

By Mike Pettinella

Just a few months removed from what Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. officials reported as a record year for revenue, signs are pointing toward even greater earnings for Batavia Downs Gaming in 2023.

“We experienced a record 2022 and now the first quarter of 2023 is up 16 percent in what we distribute (to member municipalities),” WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek said following this morning’s board of directors meeting at the Park Road facility. “It’s the highest net win by more than a half a million for the corporation, so it’s really been a blockbuster first three months of the year for us.”

Jacquelyne Leach, the corporation’s chief financial officer, provided a report to The Batavian that shows that distribution of surcharge and earnings to the 17 participating municipalities for the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same time period in 2022.

The numbers indicate that $2,269,956 in surcharge and earnings was generated this year compared to $1,956,149 in the first quarter of last year.

Genesee County’s share increased by 18 percent – from $42,002 to $49,664.

Leach also pointed out that the "net win" for March was the corporation's highest ever, $7.7 million. "Net win" is defined as credits played in the machines less credits won, she said.

Wojtaszek said Batavia Downs Gaming is bucking the trend in the gaming industry, citing information shared at a recent conference in Atlantic City.

“We heard that while the industry is doing pretty well as a whole, the indication is that the brick-and-mortar part of the casino (business) isn’t necessarily up, depending where you are, geographically,” he said. “But we’re clearly a brick-and-mortar operation and we’re clearly having a banner year. Our numbers are definitely up.”

He said he is optimistic that 2023 will exceed last year’s figures.

“(The first quarter) is usually the slow season. We’ve experienced no slowdown and now we’re coming into the busy part – with the Triple Crown, the concerts and many other events that we have here. So, we’re looking forward to a great 2023.”

On another front, Wojtaszek said a committee looking into the possibility of expanding The Hotel at Batavia Downs met on Wednesday and is leaning toward recommending the expenditure of up to $100,000 for a feasibility study and architect’s rendering.

“We’re going to be careful in our analysis of it and spending any money, but in order to figure out whether or not the expansion of the hotel is warranted, we’re most likely going to have an architect give us some drawings and have a market study done as to the return on the investment … if we do expand,” he said.

Following last month’s meeting, Wojtaszek mentioned the possibility of adding 42 rooms to the 84-room facility, but today he backtracked a bit.

“We discussed it yesterday and decided not to sit on a number at this point,” he said.

He pointed out that the hotel has been very busy and sold out on many nights, but wasn’t sure if “we’ve hit that tipping point to necessitate additional rooms.”

Wojtaszek also noted that an expansion would enhance the ease of guests’ entrance into the hotel.

“We want to make sure we have a safe drop-off area and convenient drop-off area for people,” he said. “Now, it’s a difficult situation relative to the drop-off and entrance to the hotel. We’ve acknowledged that and we’re trying to give a better experience to the guests arriving at the hotel.”

He did say that Downs’ officials will address the drop-off situation regardless of the decision on expansion.

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