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Western Regional OTB board promotes Bassett, approves sales of branches in Oswego, Monroe counties

By Mike Pettinella

For the first time in several months, the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors had a quorum at today’s meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming and was able to conduct a bit of business.

Initially, the board elected Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester) as the temporary chair to cover just this meeting, but later on (following several minutes of discussion about other matters), decided to keep him in that position through the November planning meeting.

The unattended resolutions have been piling up, with WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek informing the board that up to 70 resolutions will need to be considered before the end of the year.

With that being said, it was incumbent upon the board to have a chair in place, Wojtaszek noted.

A motion was made to elect Bassett as the permanent chair, but that failed to pass due to the board’s weighted voting system. All board members eligible to vote, except Erie County’s Jennifer Hibit, supported Bassett. However, since Erie County’s vote has more strength, based on population, the motion was defeated. City of Buffalo director Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney apparently was not eligible to vote as she is waiting for licensing from the New York State Gaming Commission.

Subsequently, other motions were brought forward to elect Bassett temporarily – first for October and then into November – and they carried unanimously.

The board did pass a pair of resolutions pertaining to sales of former WROTB branches in Phoenix, Oswego County, and West Ridge Road, Monroe County.

WROTB sold the Phoenix parlor for $750,000 to CM Family Trust and the West Ridge Road branch to Michael J. Cerone for $500,000.

Wojtaszek said he, with assistance from attorneys and procurement staff, did their best to maximize the sale prices.

Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach said the proceeds from the West Ridge Road sale will count toward the public benefit corporation’s bottom line as distributions in a normal sale but would not have an impact on distributions to municipalities for 2023.

She did say that the Phoenix sale has the “potential” to increase funds to the 15 counties and two major cities.

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