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January 20, 2022 - 11:51am

WROTB president: Record numbers illustrate the effectiveness of company's board of directors

morgan.jpgbianchi.jpgDirectors of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. this morning overwhelmingly approved Board Chair Richard Bianchi and Vice Chair Ed Morgan retaining their leadership positions for another year, firing back at proposed legislation that would change significantly the composition of the board.

Bianchi (Monroe County) and Morgan (Orleans County) (in photos, left to right) were unanimously re-elected to lead the board at its monthly meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road.

In nominating Bianchi, director Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester) cited WROTB’s “record earnings and record attendance,” adding that Bianchi “has guided us through some storms … and brought the board together like never before.”

Morgan, a retired highway superintendent, also was credited by Genesee County director Richard Siebert for his expertise in helping WROTB navigate the Park Road Reconstruction project with the Town of Batavia and for being available when needed.

The board, understandably, is opposing a bill proposed by State Sen. Timothy Kennedy of Buffalo that would revise the structure of the board based on population – action that would end the longstanding setup of a director for each of the 15 counties and cities of Buffalo and Rochester that own the public benefit company.

Kennedy also has drafted two other bills that would cap the allowance of promotional items for certain members of the corporation at $15 and prohibit WROTB corporation vehicles from being used as take-home vehicles. This proposed legislation comes on the heels of a State Comptroller’s report that faulted WROTB management and board in these areas.

WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek said the board has worked hard through the committee process to elevate Batavia Downs Gaming, the harness track and its OTB branches to record earnings.

“You heard today that the board certainly doesn't support a measure to dismantle the board that has done such a great job to bring Batavia Downs to where it is right now, where it is returning record amounts of money to the municipalities,” Wojtaszek said.

“So, they oppose it and they intend to go back to their respective communities and legislatures and councils and have them pass resolutions in opposition to this type of legislation. And as I said yesterday (to The Batavian), they directed me to explore options relative to fighting such a piece of legislation going into effect, including litigation.”

Wojtaszek said Bianchi and Morgan are “outstanding” leaders and “they’re always accessible.”

“They are often on site and they provide their expertise in the various areas that they bring to the table and you can see the results,” he said. “And in the numbers (because) people vote with their feet and their dollars … people love what they see when they come here. We provide a great entertainment, we provide great customer service, we have great food and drinks. And we intend to continue doing that.”

As far as Kennedy’s other bills, Wojtaszek said WROTB addressed the perks situation three years ago and is “supportive of those type of actions that provide transparency that cuts down on government waste. All those issues we support.”

He said the corporation has set a limit relative to gifts, but noted a difference in game tickets (Sabres, Bills) that are given to directors for hosting groups.

“It’s not a gift to the person who is a host for Batavia Downs; they’re actually working. So, the use of that ticket is for work, it's not a gift in the first place,” he said. “Our policies and procedures put in place by our marketing director are very good at this point.

“We've been dealing with people all across the state and the Inspector General, and anybody else who's asked – the Comptroller – who we invited into give us advice as to how to run this place better. We've followed that advice and things are running very well right now.”

Previously: Genesee's WROTB director slams state senator's attempt to restructure board of directors, place a cap on perks

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