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Batavia Downs Gaming

May 14, 2019 - 4:40pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Genesee Region USBC, Batavia Downs Gaming.

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"Have Mercy, on the people in the street; help them find a way to get back on their feet.

"Have Mercy, on those who would be free; free to work in hope, living peacefully. Oh, have mercy, have mercy on us all; have mercy on us all."

With those words from his song, "Mercy," Canadian rocker Carl Dixon set the tone as the keynote speaker on Saturday night at the Genesee Region USBC bowling association annual banquet at Batavia Downs Gaming.

While not a standout bowler (although he did say that he used to bowl while growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) – Dixon "struck" a chord with the 90 people in attendance as he shared his road to musical success and the details of a 2008 car accident in Australia, a horrific event that dramatically changed his outlook on life.

Dixon said he was born to perform in front of people, playing piano at the age of 3 and drums and guitar a few years later. He got hooked on rock and roll after buying a 45 of The Guess Who’s "Laughing" and "Undun," and eventually became the lead singer of the legendary group in the 1990s (when Burton Cummings took time off from touring).

His singing, playing and songwriting ability led to fame in Canada as a member of April Wine and Coney Hatch, and he said he was about to join The Guess Who again prior to the late night head-on collision while he was in Australia attempting to patch up problems with his wife at that time and his daughters.

Distraught over his inability to connect with his loved ones, Carl said he forgot that Australians drive on the opposite side of a two-lane country highway and his small car strayed into the other lane and into the path of a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

The force of the crash left him with multiple fractures, a brain injury, lacerated liver and the loss of his right eye.

Although he said he doesn’t remember the accident, the way he described it left no doubt of the severity of the collision.

“He (the other driver) came up at an angle and because he was so much bigger than my car, he came up over the top of the roof of my car and kept going after crushing all down on top of me,” he said. “I just had time, we figure, to get my arm in front of my teeth, which is why I still have my teeth, but the undercarriage of the car going over me, hit this side of my head and tore it all up.”

He said his right arm was pulled out of its socket and was torn into pieces. The impact crushed the side of his head, cheekbones and eye socket. He also had a C-7 fracture of his spine; both legs were badly broken and had many other internal injuries. All told, he had sustained 50 injuries in the space of just two seconds.

“There are a number of factors while I’m still able to stand here tonight and talk at all,” he said, mentioning that he, 49 at the time, was in peak physical condition (he played hockey three times a week right up to the accident) and was a non-smoker and a light drinker.

“My cardiovascular system was able to at least keep things pumping and get me through the crisis on that level,” he said. “Apparently I was still able to form sentences when people first came along, and this is the miraculous part: I’d like to say I must have had a whole squadron of angels watching over me that night.”

Within minutes, on what was a lonely stretch of road at the time of the crash, Carl said that several cars came upon the scene to offer assistance.

As he reflects upon it, Carl said he “takes heart from the many people who have said that God had more for you to do in this world; your work on Earth wasn’t done yet. That’s why you got through that night and the (ensuing) days.”

He said that during his recovery years, things still did not go well with his marriage and he longed for someone to come into his life to share his journey. In 2013, he said he met that person – his wife, Helen, an Australian, who accompanied him at the dinner.

Today, Carl continues to perform, touring with a couple different bands. He said he is booked to return to Batavia Downs on July 5 as part of its concert series and will be performing a tribute to The Guess Who next February at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda.

He left his audience with some of the principles that he now lives by.

“Love and connection gets us through everything that life throws at us … and it’s not something that we should turn our backs on ever,” he said. “We should stick together and believe in each other. And when things get tough, we have it in us – our thoughts are the most powerful force in the universe. We can turn our best thoughts toward the problem, and not beat ourselves up.”

"Believe in positive things, turn your energy toward the belief that I’ll get through this. I’ll tell you one thing, after what I’ve been through, anything now – well, I can always say, ‘I’ve seen worse.’ ”

Photo at top -- Carl Dixon speaking at Genesee Region USBC annual banquet Saturday night. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

September 27, 2018 - 12:16pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia Downs Gaming, Western Regional OTB.

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All who spoke at this morning’s groundbreaking ceremony for a $4 million expansion project at Batavia Downs Gaming agreed on one central point: It’s the residents of the municipalities supported by the facility who benefit the most.

“Funds (generated) from gaming go to local communities to keep the tax rate lower,” said state Sen. Michael D. Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst), whose comments were echoed by state Sen. Robert Ortt (R-North Tonawanda), state Assemblyman Stephen Hawley (R-Batavia) and Downs President/CEO Henry F. Wojtaszek.

Also on hand for the event were former Buffalo Bills great Thurman Thomas, who serves as an ambassador for Batavia Downs Gaming; directors of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., and Batavia Downs employees.

Ranzenhofer said he remembers 15 to 20 years ago – “what this facility was like then and what it is today is a dream come true."

"We want to make sure that this is viable and exciting for people to visit. (Expansion) plus the simple things like paving the parking lot and adding the hotel, makes it a jewel among other racinos in New York.”

“This is a long time coming,” Wojtaszek said. “We hope to complete it by the end of December.”

Wojtaszek said that the new amenities – a new cigar bar, additions to Fortune's restaurant including a new banquet area and bar, and expanded kitchen space to serve 34 Rush customers – will “increase revenue and more contributions to our communities.”

He added that he looks forward to future expansion and being able to offer sports betting.

Ortt, who noted that he had a poster of the "Thurmanator" as a Buffalo Bills’ fan when he was a youth, said the topic of gaming is a frequent one in Albany.

“We’re always talking about it … ways to make it viable and competitive,” he said. “We can see that OTB is doing the things to make it viable and competitive and to stay ahead of the curve. And the money that goes to the communities directly offsets property tax increases.”

Hawley, who also said he was a “longtime admirer of Thurman Thomas, but was not a kid while he was playing,” spoke of Batavia Downs’ rich history.

“This is the oldest flat track in America, opening in 1940 under the Provenzano family, and it is great to see it is expanding and becoming part of a new century,” he said. “It is a vital part of our economy.”

Thomas didn’t speak during the brief presentation, but said he felt “honored” to have the opportunity to promote the operation.

“I’ve always given back to the community,” he said. “It used to be in Buffalo but now that I’ve been here six or seven years, I feel like I’m part of this community. The fact that tax money goes back to the counties – that’s the most important thing.”

Batavia Downs Gaming and WROTBA is a public benefits corporation owned and operated by 15 WNY counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

Photos below -- renderings of new entrance, Gatsby bar and cigar bar (lower left). Photos by Mike Pettinella.

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March 23, 2017 - 11:40am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, WROTB, Batavia Downs Gaming.

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation directors this morning approved a resolution to contract with Keeler Construction of Albion to renovate the parking lot of Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road.

"The parking lot is a go," said Michael Nolan, chief operations officer, referring to approval from the New York State Gaming Commission for the $508,128 project, which is set to begin in early May and be completed by the end of that month.

Nolan advised that the reconstruction and repaving of the parking lot, which currently can handle 1,043 vehicles, will be done in three phases -- with Downs' officials taking steps to minimize any inconvenience to their customers.

"When crews are working in one section, and cars have to be parked further away from the building, we will set up a shuttle service," Nolan said. "We will do everything we can to accommodate patrons while the work is being done."

Scott P. Kiedrowski, vice president of operations, said the contract with Keeler calls for "digging out portions of the lot that are the worst, making sure the drainage is functioning properly, putting a layer over the entire lot and restriping."

"We are driven by the fact that it has reached its age; the time is now for major improvement," he added.

Director Edward Morgan (Orleans County), who has extensive experience in road resurfacing, will be acting as a volunteer liaison for WROTB during the project.

In an unrelated matter, the board has addressed a situation surrounding criminal charges against WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek, who, according to published reports, pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge on Wednesday in connection with an ongoing probe into election law violations.

The violation apparently took place in 2012 when Wojtaszek, the former Niagara County GOP chairman, failed to properly file a statement with the NYS Board of Elections.

The investigation has led to indictments against State Senator Rob Ortt and former state senator George Maziarz -- with Ortt's charges involving three counts of offering a false instrument for filing, according to The Buffalo News.

WROTB directors issued a statement supporting Wojtaszek, who was appointed as WROTB president last year. Details of Wojtaszek's plea have yet to be revealed.

The statement reads, in part, that Wojtaszek will pay a fine to receive a "conditional discharge" and that he "fully accepted responsibility" for failing to properly file the document.

"The board supports him, including me, to a man," said Director Richard Siebert (Genesee County). "There is nothing here that will cause him to lose his lawyer's license or his Gaming Commission license."

A phone call to Wojtaszek was not returned at the time of this posting.

In other developments:

-- A summer concert series is scheduled for six Saturdays in June featuring nationally known recording artists who will perform on the track's infield. Although not confirmed, possible acts include Lee Greenwood, Lou Gramm, Eddie Money and Lone Star.

-- Nolan reported that the Gaming Commission also approved plans for a new paddock at Batavia Downs. He said once the bid process is completed, he expects construction to start in June or July.

-- Operational earnings of $111,857 in February represent a $98,000 increase from the same time period last year, Comptroller Jacquelyne Leach said. The track's EZ Bets handle was up 12 percent in February (compared to February 2016) and is up 41 percent this month (compared to March 2016).

-- Racing Director Todd Haight reported that live harness racing will begin on July 26 and run through Dec. 16 for a total of 71 dates. Post times will be 5 p.m. on Wednesdays (except for opening day when it will be 6 p.m.), 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 1:15 p.m. on matinees and Sundays.

The track's Family Fun Day, featuring weiner dog races, is set for Sunday, Aug. 27.

-- More than $400,000 in winning or refundable pari-mutuel tickets across the state from 2016 must be cashed by March 31 or that money goes back into NYS coffers, Haight said. About $25,000 of that amount was generated from activity at Batavia Downs or WROTB parlors.

Those holding these tickets can go to a local OTB branch or Batavia Downs to claim their winnings.

January 20, 2017 - 9:21am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, WROTB, Batavia Downs Gaming.

Update: 9 a.m. 1/20/17

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said that Gov. Cuomo has proposed in his budget to provide $2.25 million from existing state gaming aid payments for Madison County in connection with the opening of the Oneida Nation casino in Chittenango, and also that the governor wants to cut VTL funding outside of Yonkers by $698,000 -- decreasing the statewide amount of VLT funding to $28.6 million.

"We must remember that this is merely a budget proposal by the governor, and now the legislature will get to work on it and I will be keeping a close eye on this," Hawley said.

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Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. officials are troubled about a bill in New York State’s proposed budget that would redistribute available state aid associated with hosting a gaming facility to a county that hosts a tribal casino, but does not receive a percent of the state share of revenue from that casino.

If passed into law, the measure could decrease the amount of state aid distributions to local municipalities that benefit from gaming activities at Batavia Downs, according to WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek.

“If the bill as written should pass, this would not be good for Genesee County," Wojtaszek said following Thursday’s WROTB Board of Directors meeting.

Wojtaszek said that the bill focuses on the situation in Chittenango in Madison County, home of the Native American-owned Yellow Brick Road Casino. Madison County is the only county that receives no state share of the revenue from the casino located within its borders, he noted.

Proponents of the bill believe its passage would provide an equitable distribution of state gaming aid. It would take effect on April 1 and expire on March 31, 2020 to allow for a re-evaluation of the gaming industry in the state.

A summary of the bill’s four sections is as follows:

-- Section 1 would amend the State Finance Law to reduce funds available for distribution to non-host counties in regions hosting a commercial gaming facility by $1.4 million in fiscal year 2018 and $1.55 million in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

-- Section 2 would amend the State Finance Law to provide a county that hosts a tribal casino but does not receive a percent of the state share of revenue from that casino with an annual distribution of $2.25 million.

-- Section 3 would amend the State Finance Law to reduce funds available for distribution to non-host counties in regions hosting a tribal casino by $600,000 in fiscal year 2018 and $500,000 in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

-- Section 4 would amend the State Finance Law to reduce the state aid payment to eligible municipalities hosting a VLT (video lottery terminal) facility by $250,000 in fiscal year 2018 and $200,000 in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

Provisions of Section 4 could negatively impact Genesee County, the City of Batavia and the Town of Batavia -- municipalities that receive VLT funds from the state due to their roles as casino "hosts."

County Manager Jay Gsell said he believes that the dollar amounts in Section 4 of the bill are "global" figures, meaning that the VLT funds distributed to the 18 "host" municipalities across the state would be reduced proportionately.

When contacted about this proposed bill, State Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said he is in the process of reviewing Gov. Cuomo’s proposed budget, and would call back with comments.

On a related topic, Wojtaszek also said that a bill that would have increased the percentage of net proceeds that Batavia Downs Gaming would be able to keep was vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Dec. 31.

“It was vetoed by the governor but we plan to introduce the request to the State Legislature again this year,” he said, noting that the corporation is seeking a jump from 35 percent to 41 percent.

“The primary benefit is that this money would go back to the member communities to help offset taxes and give their residents a reasonable tax rate.”

Wojtaszek said that other gaming facilities have had similar bills passed, and that it is a matter of fairness.

Board Vice-Chairman Thomas Wamp (Livingston County) said the “vendor bill” is crucial to the continued success of Batavia Downs Gaming.

“We’re definitely concerned in light of the new casinos coming, especially del Lago (Resort & Casino in Seneca County), and since Finger Lakes is impacted by this, they will promote more to the west and take some of our customers,” Wamp said.

Wamp and Chairman Richard Bianchi (Monroe County) were unanimously re-elected for another year. They have presided in the top two positions for the past seven years.

In other developments, the board:

-- Reported that $99,187 in surcharges were generated in November for distribution to the municipalities served by the corporation, and that the casino’s EZ-Bet revenue reached the $700,000 mark in December, increasing the total for 2016 to $10 million.

The $10 million mark represents a 12-percent rise from 2015.

-- Announced that a sports autograph show is set for Feb. 18-19. Among the former pro athletes scheduled to attend is Scott Norwood, placekicker during the Buffalo Bills’ Super Bowl era. Also, officials are making plans for two outdoor concerts in June, with Lone Star and Eddie Money as the headliners.

-- Reported that construction of the new paddock will begin in mid-April and, after a break, will continue with an eye toward completion before the 2018 racing season. The project carries a price tag of $1 million.

-- Authorized a one-year contract with Park Strategies LLC of New York City, a lobbying firm founded by former U.S. Senator Alphonse M. D’Amato at a cost of $5,000 per month.

-- Reported that 38 more games are being added to the casino floor, upping the total to 835.

December 15, 2016 - 11:51am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Western Regional OTB, Batavia Downs Gaming.

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Henry Wojtaszek, president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., is hoping for a Christmas present in the form of the governor's signature on a bill that would "level the playing field" when it comes to the amount of revenue that Batavia Downs Gaming would be able to retain.

Currently, Batavia Downs Gaming gets to keep 35 percent of the net proceeds. If the bill -- which has passed through both houses of the State Legislature -- is signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that figure would rise to 41 percent. A 6-percent increase translates to roughly $3 million in additional earnings.

"We're at a disadvantage now," Wojtaszek said following Thursday morning's board of directors meeting. "Other casinos in WNY -- Buffalo Raceway, Finger Lakes and the Senecas -- are at 41 percent, and more in some cases."

Wojtaszek said it's a matter of "being fair and competitive, and enabling us to retain and create jobs."

"The passage of this bill would definitely level the playing field," he said.

He said the bill is on the governor's desk.

In consideration of the ever-increasing competition, WROTB officials are anticipating operational earnings of $2,628,000 for 2017 -- down from the $3.3 million that was projected for 2016. The 2017 figure is based on a net revenue projection of $3,817,000 minus a $1,189,000 surcharge paid to municipalities.

"The corporation feels the opening of del Lago (in Seneca County) on February 1st will have some impact; of course, there will be a honeymoon period," said Comptroller Jacquelyne Leach. "But our advertising and marketing department is stepping up efforts to offset this."

Leach said her net revenue projection of $3.8 million is based on overall revenues of $76.3 million minus payments to all state entities and operational expenses totaling $72.5 million.

In another development, WROTB directors extended farewell wishes to Fred Hamilton, of Batavia, who is retiring on Dec. 31 after nearly 11 years as the corporation's food services director.

"When we hired Fred, immediately the quality, service and product went skyward," said Michael Kane, former WROTB president and current consultant to the board. "He treats every customer like it's his brother. We'll all miss you. You've done a wonderful job for this corporation."

Hamilton said he is "going to miss a lot of people" and thanked all the "great people" who work at Batavia Downs, but said that "the timing is right" for retirement. He has been in the food service business for nearly 50 years.

Photo -- Fred Hamilton, center, is congratulated by Henry Wojtaszek and Jacquelyne Leach at today's WROTB board meeting. Hamilton, the Downs' food services director, is retiring at the end of the year. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

November 3, 2016 - 8:10am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia Downs Gaming, Western Regional OTB.

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The new, privately owned Hotel at Batavia Downs has "reinvented" the destination landscape in Batavia and Genesee County, the leader of the 84-room, luxury facility's investment group said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception on Wednesday night at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road -- and there could be more to come in the near future.

"This is a proud day for Batavia and Western New York. With this hotel, we have reinvented the hotel industry in Batavia," said Anthony Baynes, managing partner for ADK Hospitality, a Buffalo-based development team that purchased land from Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. in March 2015 and spent $7.5 million to build what it hopes becomes the county's first AAA four-diamond hotel. 

Baynes went on to thank Michael Kane, former WROTB president and CEO, for his efforts in forging what he called a "unique partnership" between private investors and a public corporation, and Hart Hotels, a highly respected firm that has been hired to manage the hotel.

Buffalo TV personality Laurie Lisowski Frey, WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek, Congressman Chris Collins and Dr. Laszlo Mechtler also spoke briefly to the estimated 400 people at the event before the investors cut the ribbon officially opening the hotel, which was nearly sold out for the evening.

"This is an extremely exciting time for our company, and for our region," Wojtaszek said. "This collaboration takes our organization to a new level and certainly strengthens our brand."

Collins said he was glad to say this was a "bipartisan" gathering.

"We have both Republicans and Democrats here, but when it comes to supporting worthwhile ventures (we're in agreement)," he said. "These entrepreneurs are risking their own capital ... and it's great to see the entrepreneurial spirit serving Genesee County and Batavia.

Rick Likus, hotel general manager, while leading tours for the invited guests, said the Hotel at Batavia Downs is "truly a destination that nobody else in this market can offer."

He said there are 40 rooms with double queen beds and 40 with king beds, as well as four two-room suites on the fourth floor that face the harness horse-racing track. He said extra "perks" for guests include specially made goose down pillows and mattresses, refrigerators and coffeemakers, Belgian chocolates and an early evening "turn-down service" where the rooms are spruced up by housekeeping staff.

Kane, who is acting as advisor to the WROTB board and management, said the hotel became "a priority" after the gaming facility completed its capital project downstairs. He said he is confident the hotel will succeed, thanks in part to the professionalism of Hart Hotels.

"Hart is the single-most capable organization in my opinion," he said. "They manage a five-star hotel in Watkins Glen (actually three four-diamond properties in Watkins Glen, 1000 Islands and Portland, Maine). The hotel here is very well appointed, and one more piece that will drive revenue to our municipalities."

Kane provided some insight into the Downs' future plans, stating that as more property becomes available, a banquet hall big enough to accommodate a couple thousand people could be added.

"That would be beneficial," he said. "In a constantly changing industry, you need to stay ahead (of the curve)."

IT'S OFFICIAL: ADK Hospitality investment partners and Congressman Chris Collins, right, surround Henry Wojtaszek, president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday night to mark the opening of the upscale Hotel at Batavia Downs. From left are Jim Basil, John Basil, Anthony Baynes, Wojtaszek, Kent Frey, Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, David McNamara and Collins. 

Other photos -- Congressman Chris Collins, with WROTB executives Scott Kiedrowski​, Michael Nolan and Jacquelyne Leach in background; Thurman Thomas (former Buffalo Bills running back and Batavia Downs spokeman) speaking to Bills fan Jon Detwiler and Nolan, and posing with Connie Penkszyk of Batavia. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

September 22, 2016 - 11:27am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia Downs Gaming, Western Regional OTB.

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Saturday, Oct. 15 is looking more and more like the date for the grand opening of the Hotel at Batavia Downs on Park Road.

Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., today said that Downs officials and the Buffalo investors who own the hotel are gearing toward a grand opening ceremony on the 15th of next month.

"The fourth floor (of the 84-room hotel) is almost completed and we expect to be ready for booking" by the second week of October, Wojtaszek said, adding that the facility is a "step up" from most hotels and is run "by a top-notch staff."

The hotel has been painted a unique blue (Wojtaszek called it "Batavia Downs Hotel blue") and that color has been extended to the front of Batavia Downs Gaming. He added that the hotel's owners have the option to add another 42 rooms at some point in time.

WROTB has invested about $30 million into capital improvements in recent years, and continues to renovate the entrance area to the casino. Most recently, it added left-turn lanes into the parking lot for cars heading north on Park Road. Wojtaszek said the corporation is into the third year of paying back its long-term debt, which currently stands at around $20 million.

In other developments at today's WROTB Board of Directors meeting:

-- Directors approved putting an additional $20,000 into the Kane Memorial Race on Oct. 8, upping Batavia Downs' contribution from its usual $30,000 to $50,000.  Wojtaszek said this is being done per an agreement with the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association in light of the Downs' delaying the construction of a new paddock area until next year.

-- Wojtaszek said the New York State Gaming Commission is close to approving Batavia Downs Gaming's contract with FanDuel, a fantasy sports company which agreed to a four-year contract with WROTB to provide this type of competition at Batavia Downs Gaming and at some of its OTB branches.

While acknowledging that sign-ups for the program have been "slow" to this point, Wojtaszek said it's too early to tell how successful the venture will be. The contract does provide WROTB a specific amount of "guaranteed" money, it was reported.

-- Marketing Manager Ryan Hasenauer reported that a former Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas, a Batavia Downs Gaming spokesman, will be at the casino on Nov. 20 for a FanDuel event, and he also will be on hand on Oct. 9 for a "meet and greet."

On Nov. 5-6, an autograph show will feature former professional sports stars Ron Darling and Cecil Fielder (baseball), Grant Fuhr (hockey), Jo Jo White and Nate "Tiny" Archibald (basketball), and Bob Lilly, Joe Cribbs and Kordell Stewart (football).

In photos at top, the view of Batavia Downs Gaming with the new Hotel at Batavia Downs in the background; the revamped parking lanes which enable drivers to make left turns from Park Road into the facility's parking lot and a front view of the hotel. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

August 25, 2016 - 5:31pm

Maybe you've been wanting to pick up an American Buffalo hoodie or a women's spaghetti-strap shirt with the Made in America logo on it, but you haven't had a chance to drive to one of the MIA outlets in Erie County.

Well, you're in luck (no pun intended) as plans have been finalized to locate a Made in America store in the lobby of Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road.

"About three weeks ago, (Western Regional Off-Track Betting President) Henry (Wojtaszek), (Vice President of Operations) Scott (Kiedrowski) and I met with Mark Andol, owner of the Made in America franchise headquartered in Elma, and we signed an agreement to open a gift shop at Batavia Downs Gaming," said Michael Nolan, WROTB's chief operating officer.

"We feel that it's a good idea, especially being a public benefit corporation, that fits right in the bloodstream of our demographics."

Nolan said Batavia Downs will offer clothing apparel -- T-shirts, hoodies, etc. -- and other items, with some of the clothing to bear both the MIA and Batavia Downs Gaming insignias.

The announcement was made this morning at the WROTB Board of Directors meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming.

For more about the Made in America store, go to www.madeinamericastore.com.

In other developments, Nolan said:

-- He expects the Downs' partnership with FanDuel to offer fantasy sports competition at Batavia Downs Gaming at some of its OTB branches to "receive clearance" from the New York State Gaming Commission by next week -- "in time to be off and running for the 2016 NFL season." 

The gaming board approved FanDual's application to operate in New York State last week, action that came on the heels of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to legalize interactive fantasy sports in New York. Previously, WROTB signed a four-year contract with FanDual.

-- That an EZ Bet kiosk is being placed at Letchworth Pines in Portageville. This will be the third such kiosk in Wyoming County, with the other two located at BenGo’s Express Mart in Attica and the Arcade Hotel.

Letchworth Pines was purchased last year by Kevin Sass, who has been involved in the bowling business since the late 1990s and also was a competitor on the Professional Bowlers Association Regional Tour. 

A grand opening, featuring prize drawings and refreshments, is scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at The Pines. It is located at 6985 Fillmore Road.

August 3, 2016 - 9:48pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia Downs Gaming, WROTB, FanDuel, fantasy sports.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to legalize interactive fantasy sports in New York State couldn't have come at a better time for Western Regional Off-Track Corp., which recently signed a four-year deal with FanDuel to offer fantasy sports competition at Batavia Downs Gaming and at some of its OTB branches.

"We are very excited, and since we have a team flying down on Friday to FanDuel headquarters (in New York City) to meet with company officials, the timing of this is very good for Western Regional Off-Track Betting," said Michael P. Nolan, WROTB chief operating officer Wednesday night.

Earlier Wednesday, the governor signed bill S.8153/A.10736 that requires fantasy sports companies to register with, and operate under regulations issued by, the New York State Gaming Commission. It is expected that once fully implemented, the legislation will generate approximately $4 million in revenue to fund state education aid.

Nolan said that he expects WROTB's contract with FanDuel to be approved by the Gaming Commission in time for Batavia Downs Gaming to have its fantasy sports program up and running for the 2016 NFL season.

"Three weeks ago, Nigel Eccles, the co-founder and owner of FanDuel, came to Batavia and we gave him a tour of Batavia Downs and a few of our branches," Nolan said. "With this agreement, Western New Yorkers can expect the FanDuel product to be much more prominent in this area, and we will be bringing more people into Genesee County."

The WROTB-FanDuel partnership is truly that -- "a 100 percent incentive-based partnership," Nolan said.

"We feel that FanDuel is the best fantasy sports provider in the world and that's who we want to be associated with," he added.

Nolan said that he along with WROTB President Henry F. Wojtaszek and a few other members of the project's operations team will be going to New York City on Friday. He noted that while other race tracks and casinos in the state have voiced opposition to legalizing fantasy sports (claiming that it would hurt their businesses), WROTB management sees FanDuel's "synergy" with Batavia Downs Gaming's business model and "agreed that this was the best direction to proceed."

The governor's action ends a battle between New York State and the fantasy sports companies (Draft Kings is the other major player). State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had unleashed investigations, lawsuits and regulations to shut them down, calling them illegal gambling ventures that raked in around $200 million in entry fees from more than a half-million customers in New York in 2015.

In signing the bill, Gov. Cuomo said in a press release that "daily fantasy sports have proven to be popular in New York, but until now have operated with no supervision and no protections for players. This legislation strikes the right balance that allows this activity to continue with oversight from state regulators, new consumer protections, and more funding for education.”

Interactive (online) fantasy sports are games of skill in which contestants assemble a roster of athletes in a given sport and use the actual performance statistics of those athletes to determine the contest’s winner. Contestants pay fees to enter the contest and, if successful in performing against their opponent, win prizes.

In addition to establishing the means for regulating interactive fantasy sports in New York State, this legislation also takes steps to institute important consumer protections for players for the first time, some of which include offering introductory procedures to new players, identifying highly experienced players, prohibiting the participation of minors and protecting players' funds upon deposit.

July 28, 2016 - 12:09pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in WROTB, news, Batavia Downs Gaming.

Michael D. Kane shares a moment with Pauline Andrews, his executive secretary, following today's Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming. Kane is retiring after five years as the corporation's president and chief executive officer. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. directors this morning (Thursday, July 28) said farewell -- sort of -- to President and Chief Executive Officer Michael D. Kane at their monthly meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming.

Kane is retiring after a 17-year affiliation with Batavia Downs, including the last five as the president/CEO. The Dansville native (and former mayor of the Livingston County village) presided over his final meeting today, but will continue on for an indefinite period as advisor to the corporation's new president, Henry F. Wojtaszek, of North Tonwanda, who was promoted to the position after serving as general counsel to the board.

Directors and executive staff members had nothing but great things to say about Kane's work.

"Speaking for the board and our employees, I would like to thank Mike for his leadership and guidance that he has provided to us to take this corporation into the future," said Michael P. Nolan, WROTB chief operating officer. "Furthermore, it is important that we will be able to use his knowlege as he continues on in an advisory capacity."

The board authorized a weekly salary of $1,000 for Kane's services.

Board Chairman Richard Bianchi called Kane a "loyal and dedicated employee," who elevated Batavia Downs to its current level of success and "brought this board together better than I've ever seen it since 2003."

At the close of the meeting, the board celebrated the retirements of Kane and Barbara Hanft, executive assistant to the comptroller, with a birthday cake. Hanft will retire in September after 36 years with the corporation.

In other developments:

-- Nolan reported that the Batavia Downs Gaming Hotel is expected to open by the second week of September, adding that crews will be installing furniture in the rooms starting at the fourth floor and working their way to the first floor. The $7.5 million, 84-room hotel is being built by ADK Hospitality, a group of Buffalo investors.

-- The Downs' valet parking area has been moved from the south side of the facility to the front, and the parking lot will be reconstructed in certain areas in the coming weeks to make it safer for pedestrians entering the Park Road building, Nolan said. He also said a temporary covering over the entrance, which will mimic the completed project, will be in place within the next few months.

Valet Parking Update -- 6:30 p.m.: Downs' officials announced via Facebook that the valet parking will return to the south entrance due to concerns voiced by their patrons.

-- Nolan and five other WROTB representatives will be traveling to New York City to meet with officials of Fan Dual, a fantasy sports contest that will be offered at Batavia Downs. "We are looking to integrate our business relationship (with Fan Dual) in order to be up and running, when and if the governor (Andrew Cuomo) signs the bill."

-- WROTB's second quarter distributions to its Western New York counties totaled $867,364, about 21 percent more than earnings distributions for the same time period last year. In June, the surcharge for distrbution was $122,000 and earnings were $227,000. EZ Bet (wagering through terminals at sports bars) year-to-date handle is up $38,000 from 2015, and Batavia Bets (online wagering) was up 36 percent in June, 10 percent this mornth and 10 percent for the year.

-- The board welcomed a new director -- Elliott Winter, of Niagara County.

July 19, 2016 - 9:27pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in town of batavia planning board, news, Batavia Downs Gaming.

Three parcels of land situated west and north of the NYS Thruway are keys to the Town of Batavia's future development, Town Planning Board members said Tuesday night as they forwarded a recommendation to the Town Board to place them in the "priority" category of Genesee County's Smart Growth Plan.

Town planners unanimously voted in a favor of a motion by Paul Marchese to move these parcels which had been "reserved for development" -- 500 acres behind the current Town Hall on West Main Street Road, 100 acres near Wal-Mart on Veterans Memorial Drive, and 600 acres owned by Gordon Offhaus west of Route 98 and north of Federal Drive -- to "priority development area" status for Smart Growth.

"These areas meet the comprehensive plan and our outlook on development, and being part of the Smart Growth Plan eliminates obstacles (to potential developers) and streamlines the process," said Town Building Inspector Daniel Lang.

Lang provided details about the three parcels as follows:

-- Called "Townville" by the planning board as they work through their meetings, the parcel behind the Town Hall is earmarked for a "Town Center" -- a mixed-use, high-density development featuring commercial and residential structures, including town houses. Form-based building codes are being used and a design is already in place.

-- The area near Wal-Mart already has generated a "high volume" of interest from commercial developers, and is enhanced by the fact that a portion of that site is part of the Smart Growth Plan.

-- The Offhaus property has been designated as a Planned Business Development (PBD) area reserved for a large-scale project.

In other aciton, planners:

-- Approved a site plan review for a 3,000-square-foot addition to the transfer station operated by the Genesee ARC at 3785 West Main Street Road.

According to Paul Saskowski, ARC director of operations, the facility -- to be called The One-Stop -- will be modified to feature drive-thru service and will offer trash drop-off, recycling and a redemption center, as well as secure shredding. He said the work will be done by D.A. Tufts Construction of Batavia.

-- Set a public hearing for Aug. 16 for a proposed Fairfield Inn on Federal Drive. The public hearing is needed since the developer, Oakfield Hospitality, LLC, is seeking to build the hotel in an industrial park. The final determination will be made by the Town Zoning Board of Appeals.

-- Approved a 42-inch wide by 60-foot long backlit sign for the new hotel at Batavia Downs Gaming. The sign will read "Hotel at Batavia Downs."

April 7, 2016 - 12:03pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs Gaming, news.

Press release:

Today, as part of the release of the New York Gaming Association’s 2015 Annual Report, Batavia Downs announced new data detailing the significant economic benefits generated by Batavia Downs to state and local government. Located in Western New York, Batavia Downs is a significant source of funding for New York public schools, revenue for local governments, and quality jobs for members of the local community.

“Here in Genesee County we are very pleased to be part of one of the fastest growing economic regions in the State,” said Batavia Downs COO, Michael Nolan. "We will continue to strive and grow our business as a leader in entertainment and tourism in Western New York.

"With growth comes new business and job opportunities in the Genesee County Region. With an 84-room hotel currently under construction this only solidifies our commitment to the community."

NYGA facilities have been a strong source of economic activity on the state and local levels, providing critical funding for our public schools, tax revenue for local governments, capital investment that generates construction jobs, and support for businesses, including the local tourism and hospitality industry.

Top findings for Batavia Downs include:

  • Employs 253 people from the local community; supports 836 jobs in the local community
  • Has an economic impact of $83.4 million
  • Generated $21.5 million for education in New York State
  • Generated $3.4 million to participating municipalities

Top statewide findings include:

  • $3 billion in combined economic activity in 2015
  • $888 million generated in funding for New York State education aid in 2015, and a total of $6.4 billion from 2004 to 2015.
  • $77 million in tax revenue for state and local governments in 2015, and $304 million since 2007.
  • $40 million in capital investments to NYGA’s facilities in 2015, and $1.5 billion since building the original facilities.
  • $218 million in support of New York’s racing industry both Standardbred and Thoroughbred
  • $27 million for breeding and agricultural related businesses such as family farms, feed producers and veterinarians.

The full NYGA report can be found here, including a breakdown of top line findings from each of NYGA’s nine member facilities: http://newyorkgaming.org/press-media/

Western OTB is a public benefit corporation owned and operated by 17 Western New York municipalities: Cattaraugus County, Cayuga County, Chautauqua County, Erie County, Genesee County, Livingston County, Monroe County, Niagara County, Orleans County, Oswego County, Schuyler County, Seneca County, Steuben County, Wayne County, Wyoming County as well as the cities of Rochester and Buffalo.

Headquartered in Batavia, NY, WROTB owns and operates 27 OTB branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility.

February 26, 2014 - 4:00pm

Batavia Downs Gaming invites you to watch the Oscars this Sunday night in style! Grandstands Bar & Grille will be hosting a Movie Awards Viewing Party from 5:30 p.m. until the show ends.

Cost is just $69.95 per couple which gets you each:
  • $25 in Free Play
  • Dinner including carving station with tenderloin, pasta station, shrimp cocktails
  • Hand Passed hors d'oeuvres
  • Rent One/Get One coupon from Family Video
  • Chocolate from Oliver's
  • Vodka tasting from Grey Goose
  • Access to our dessert station with a chocolate fountain!
You'll also participate in a "Pick The Award Winners" contest with prizes like Free Play, Batavia Downs Gear and Gift Certificates from Family Video!
 
You can also walk the red carpet and get your picture taken with some celebrities!* We’ll e-mail them to you so you can post them to your social media pages.
 
With the $50 in Free Play you receive, it' s really only a net purchase of $10 per person! Call Mary for Reservations today at 585-343-3750, ext. 468.
*Please note – celebrities made of cardboard.
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