Skip to main content

Batavia Downs Gaming

Genesee Region USBC bowling banquet is May 11 at Batavia Downs Gaming with reservations due by May 4

By Press Release

Press release:

The Genesee Region USBC will be conducting its Annual Banquet & Hall of Fame Dinner on Saturday, May 11 at Batavia Downs Gaming’s Genesee Banquet Room.

The event will get underway at 6 p.m. with a memorial service in honor of members of the bowling community who passed away over the last year.

Highlights of the evening include the induction of brothers Tim and Tom Rohl into the association’s Hall of Fame in the Bowling Achievement category, presentation of the Barbara J. Kreiley Memorial Scholarship and recognition of tournament and regular season league champions.

Election of officers and directors also will take place, along with voting to raise the annual Standard and Local Only Adult membership dues by $1.

The cost of the buffet dinner is $35, with the following exceptions:

NO CHARGE – GRUSBC directors, Adult Tournament Champions (limit one tournament only), Youth Tournament Champions and one guest (limit one tournament only), guest speaker and one guest, Hall of Fame inductees and one guest.

$20 PER PERSON – Past GRUSBC Hall of Famers, league secretary or representative (limit one per league).

The reservation deadline is May 4. The banquet is open to all GRUSBC members, with a reservation deadline of May 4.

Please RSVP by sending an email to or by calling 585-343-3736.


The 17th Genesee Region USBC Association Tournament concluded on Sunday at Oak Orchard Bowl in Albion.

Unofficial winners of the various divisions are as follows:

Open Team -- Christ Recycling, Albion, 2,860. Robbie Hanks' 300 game and 805 series on the tournament's opening squad sparked the team to the big score and it held on for first place. Other team members were Albert Burch (631), Larry Boyce (523) and Marvin Christ (483). The team received 418 pins handicap.

Women's Team -- Splitz & Giggles, Albion, 2,501. Barbara Casavant posted 604 scratch to lead the way. Other members were Sharon Stefanini (306), Tiffany Crawford (522) and Breanna Seever (502). The team received 590 pins handicap.

Open Doubles -- Daryl Dillon & Greg Gilman, Albion, 1,524. Bowling on the final squad on Sunday, Dillon registered 682 and Gilman rolled 651 for 1,333 scratch plus 191 pins handicap.

Women's Doubles -- Karen Allis & Jane Chaddock, Batavia, 1,284. Chaddock posted 566 and Allis had 532 on the second to last squad of the tournament. They received 186 pins handicap.

Open Singles -- Jeremy Yasses, Oakfield, 781. Yasses recorded games of 246-211-235 for 692 scratch. With his 89 pins handicap (based on 192 average), he took the lead on the Sunday morning squad.

Women's Singles -- Breanna Seever, Albion, 654. Seever started with a 211 game and went on to roll 522 scratch. Her 132 pins handicap enabled her to top the leaderboard, and she went on to place first in Women's All-Events as well.

Open All-Events -- Scott Culp, Honeoye Falls-Lima, 2,262. Culp put up the winning score without the benefit of handicap. His three series were 747 (Team), 773 (Doubles) and 742 (Singles).

Women's All-Events -- Breanna Seever, Albion, 1,937.

For unofficial final standings and the projected prize list, go to

Western New York off-track betting branches to get marketing shot in the arm

By Mike Pettinella
Thomas Wamp

In what may prove to be a course reversal, Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. directors on Thursday said they are open to allocating more money to promote the branch segment of the public benefit company.

“We want to make an attempt to market it (the off-track betting branches). It seems like all marketing has been geared toward Batavia Downs Gaming,” said Thomas Wamp, board member representing Livingston County, prior to the monthly directors’ meeting at the Park Road gaming establishment.

For quite some time, WROTB management has pointed out that the corporation’s eight branch locations -- save one or two -- have been losing money. As a result, the publicized plan has been to reduce the number of branches, while working to add E-Z Bet sites, which do not have employees.

Wamp (photo at right) said the board is putting that strategy “on hold” as it explores ways to make the branches profitable.

“This being the 50th anniversary of WROTB, we believe we need to provide an opportunity to market and increase the pari-mutuel (horse wagering) handle,” he said. “Branches have served as a beneficial aspect of the corporation. It would be sad to eliminate the pari-mutuel end of the OTB operation.”

When asked about specific steps to enhance the branch side of the equation, Wamp offered ideas such as utilizing Thurman Thomas, WROTB’s ambassador; hiring another staff person or two to go to the branches to instruct on the use of self-vending terminal, and producing television and radio advertising spots focusing on off-track betting.

“We’ll let (Marketing Director) Ryan (Hasenauer) and his staff come up with ways to do this,” he added. “We trust that he’s on board with taking some of his personnel to come up with ideas to stimulate interest.”

Wamp noted that the on-track harness horse racing handle at Batavia Downs has picked up in recent months.

“That shows that there is some interest in horse racing. We have an excellent track, and we need to play up that benefit,” he said.

Antonella Rotilio, labor relations representative for the employees’ union at Batavia Downs Gaming has been calling for a joint effort of WROTB management, board and employees to explore ways to increase branch traffic.

The Batavian reached out to Rotilio, rep for the United Public Service Employees Union Local 1222, for comment. Her response:

"We are very pleased to hear the board's plan. This is all we wanted -- a fighting chance. Many of my members at the branches have felt forgotten about as the focus has been on the casino. This is an opportunity to invest in them, the communities and the local governments. We want the branches to be as successful as the casino, and yesterday's news gives us hope that we may have a fighting chance."

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek, contacted by telephone this morning, acknowledged that horse racing, overall, has declined but said that it was incumbent upon the corporation "to look at all possible options before making a final decision (on branch closings)."

"As we approach the 50th anniversary of WROTB and the 150th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby, it is smart to make a concerted effort to promote the branches and other areas we offer pertaining to horse racing," he said. "We'll employ various means, including television advertising, over the next few months."

WROTB, Genesee County honor Richard Siebert for dedication, commitment to Batavia Downs

By Mike Pettinella
Dick and Dennis
Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. Board Chair Dennis Bassett, right, shows his appreciation for Richard Siebert's many years of service to the company with a smooch on the cheek at this morning's ceremony honoring Siebert at Batavia Downs Gaming. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

As lifelong Batavian Richard E. “Dick” Siebert thanked those that have helped turn a once decimated Batavia Downs into what it has become today – a successful gaming and horse racing destination, he turned his attention to Dennis Bassett, the current chair of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors.

Speaking this morning at a ceremony at the Park Road facility honoring his 29-plus years as a WROTB director, Siebert turned his head, looking for Bassett in the crowd of well-wishers.

“Dennis and I disagreed about things over the years, but Dennis, I got to tell you,” Siebert said before being cut off by Bassett, who approached the lectern and proceeded to plant a big kiss upon Siebert’s left cheek.

As the audience roared with approval, Bassett said, “I miss you, I miss you.”

WROTB management set this time aside to dedicate a plaque in Siebert’s honor, which has been erected outside the remodeled Genesee Banquet Room adjacent to the Hotel at Batavia Downs lobby on the second floor.


The plaque reads as follows:

“In grateful appreciation for your years of tireless leadership and commitment as a longtime member and past chairman of the board of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation. Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel Board of Directors, 1994-2023. We applaud you for your unwavering guidance and contributions to the success of this company. Dedicated on this day. March 28th, 2024.”

Siebert, active for many years as the Genesee County Republican Party chair, was a key figure in WROTB’s purchase of Batavia Downs in 1998 after it encountered hard times. He has been a staunch supporter of the track (and now casino).

“Batavia Downs has always been in my heart,” he said, acknowledging that he was “overwhelmed and humbled” by the gathering and plaque dedication.

“When I got out of college in 1958, I thought I was going to set the world on fire. I got a job working for M&T Bank … a bookkeeper for 55 dollars a week. I found out that Batavia Downs was hiring bankers to work in their money room. So, being a banker, I applied at Batavia Downs way back in 1958 to work in the money room.

“I got hired right away for $14 a night … I worked in that money room for 15 years, and when I think back on that if somebody ever told me in that money room that someday I would be on the board of directors for Batavia Downs—and even be the chairman for one year or so—I would have said, ‘What are you smokin' man?’ (to a burst of laughter).

“It is what it is, and things worked out. I’m just glad that I could be a part of this board for the 29 years …”

Siebert recalled when the former owners, the Sambergs, ran into financial difficulties and when the harness track was empty “with nothing in it but seagulls and asbestos.”

“When we bought it, it was a wreck. The board worked on it. Many people wanted to sell it … but we stayed with it, and this is a whole tribute to our county and the whole scope of things – Genesee County, the City of Batavia,” he said.

He then mentioned the current staff at Batavia Downs Gaming, giving leadership credit for what the organization has become.

“Just looking at the staff, (President/CEO) Henry Wojtaszek, (Chief Operating Officer) Scott (Kiedrowski), (VP/Administration) Bill White and (Chief Financial Officer) Jackie Leach,” he said.

“Jackie Leach, especially, … is the one who really saved the day for us because when COVID shut us down, we were empty. She kept the banks away from our doors. She arranged for the loans that we got to keep our staff working, which we did pay back.”

Looking around, he found her in the crowd and said, “You did a great job,” to more applause.

“I have to say this is the best staff … that I’ve ever seen in my 29 years.”

Siebert closed by acknowledging former Genesee County Judge Charles Zambito, who replaced him on the board last May.

“I can’t think of a better person to take my place, Chuck. I know you’ll do a great job.”

Several people praised Siebert prior to the unveiling of the plaque.

“The thing that strikes me the most, in this world of rough and tumble, actually cutthroat, this world of politics in the gaming industry – a very tough industry, is that I’ve never met a gentleman like Dick Siebert,” he said. “Just a great man. If I had to sum him up … I would talk about the following adjectives -- respected, dignified, caring, savvy, a true family man, dedicated, calm, cool, collected, fearless and always willing to take a chance. Nobody, in my opinion, … no one loves Genesee County and Batavia gaming more than Dick Siebert.”

“Richard -- a true legend, a true legend. I had the pleasure of being on the board with Dick for 14 of his 29 years. And I want to say, a gentleman's gentleman. And if there's anyone who loved Batavia Downs, it was Richard Siebert. He consistently brought his colleagues, his friends, and his neighbors to participate in whatever we had at Batavia Downs. And at the board meetings, he didn't fail to thank the staff for treating his guests and him in the utmost positive manner. But as you would imagine, Dick always had areas for improvement, so he shared that with them as well. But Dick, I want you to know that the board is a better place because you passed this way. Your unwavering support, your unwavering dedication for what we were trying to do and what we've been trying to do here at Batavia Downs is going to be etched in your plaque and in this banquet room for years on.

“We're so thrilled for you today. Not only did you spend almost 30 years, which was your goal of being on that board, but you actually got to write the check from Genesee County for the inception and the investment that the county made. And you have always taken great pride and great privilege in having that hands-on opportunity for this entire entity here. And we are grateful for that. And we are grateful that you continue to guide and to challenge and to take courageously bold steps at times on behalf of all of the counties that are members here. We know that when you served us, you kept the fact that Genesee County is the host community in the forefront of your mind and that our people work here, and our people are benefited from their careers here. And our economy here in this region is benefited by this organization.”

Torrey spoke of his time working at the OTB branch in the Genesee Country Mall while in high school and then working at the Ellicott Street headquarters after graduating from college in the accounting department. He said Siebert stood by him and “brought me over here when we first opened the track.”

“It wasn’t always like this. Batavia Downs went through some lean times, and I appreciate he was always there for me … I hope I've let you know how much I appreciate you over the years. But if I haven't before … And nobody deserves this more than you do.”

“I had the opportunity of working with you because when I first started working here -- when we first opened way back here at Batavia Downs -- and it certainly has come a long way, and I'm sure your leadership is the reason why it has gotten this far. (Relaying a message from Hawley): Congratulations to my lifelong friend and mentor. Your years of service to our Western New York community should serve as a prime example of what citizens should emulate in terms of leadership in their communities. Congratulations.”

Dick Siebert
Photo by Mike Pettinella.
Dick and Charles
Richard Siebert and Charles Zambito, who took over as Genesee County's representative on the WROTB board last May.
Photo by Mike Pettinella.

WROTB to honor Batavian Richard Siebert with plaque in new-look Genesee banquet room

By Mike Pettinella
Richard Siebert

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. officials today said they will be honoring former director Batavian Richard Siebert for his many years of service to Batavia Downs and Batavia Downs Gaming.

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek, at today’s board meeting at the Park Road facility, said that Siebert will be recognized at a noon reception on March 28 with a plaque in the newly remodeled Genesee banquet room on the second floor of Batavia Downs Gaming.

Siebert (photo at right) served on the board for 29 years until resigning in early May after it was announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul that the governing body would be dismantled and restructured.

Wojtaszek said that he’s contacted Siebert about the recognition.

“Dick said he’s going to try to bring his family,” he said. “He was very touched, and he definitely wants to be here.”

Wojtaszek also raved over changes that are being made to what had been known as the Grandstands banquet room.

“Our staff did a great job,” he said. “We’re expanding our catering services … and the room looks fantastic. It’s not done yet, but we’re pretty close to it.”

In other developments from the meeting:

-- Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach reported five-year earnings and surcharge distribution figures totaling $28,387,714.

“With Western OTB, if we have losses in a year, we cannot offset future earnings with those losses. So, for really a four-year period (not including 2020 when there were no earnings), we've distributed $28.4 million, which I feel for a small venue is extremely impressive,” she said.

WROTB distributed $5.8 million in surcharge and earnings to its 17 member municipalities in 2021, a year after having only 722,740 in surcharge distributions, due to the pandemic.

The number jumped to $8.4 million in 2022 and $9.7 million last year, including fourth-quarter earnings distributions of just shy of $1.9 million.

Genesee County received $208,114 in surcharge and earnings distributions in 2023, up from $179,105 in 2022.

Looking forward, she said the corporation is aiming for a net win (money left in the video lottery terminals after payouts) in 2024 of $89 million.

“If that’s the case, it could very well (exceed $9.7 million),” she said.

Leach pointed out that “back in the day, when our pari-mutuel (horse race wagering) was, like 1990 when it was $200 million, our surcharge distributions were close to $4 million.”

“That’s not the case anymore, but our earnings distribution – $9.1 million for 2023 – was the highest in the corporation’s history,” she noted.

-- Board Chair Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester) said that the company’s internal investigation into a lawsuit by three former bartenders at Batavia Downs Gaming is ongoing.

“We talked about it in executive session and our investigation continues, but I have nothing new to report,” he said, adding that he hasn’t heard anything more from attorneys representing Tara Sweet of Elba, Corrine Armison of Batavia and Brooklynn Cline of Belmont.

The trio is suing the corporation, claiming wage theft by supervisors who kept a share of pooled tips. Also, Sweet is alleging sexual harassment against Chief Operating Officer Scott Kiedrowski and Director of Security Daniel Wood.

Kiedrowski and Wood are named as defendants, along with WROTB and Batavia Downs Gaming, in the suit that was filed in Supreme Court in Genesee County. Both Kiedrowski and Wood are working while the lawsuit unfolds.

-- The board voted to amend a pair of resolutions authorizing the purchase of concert tickets and parking passes for all shows at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in 2024 and for Buffalo Bills’ licensing fees, tickets and a suite through 2026.

The Darien Lake cost went up from $30,000 to $35,000 while the cost for the Bills’ games has been set at $157,202.90 in 2024, $163,413.05 in 2025 and $165,733.70 in 2026.

When asked about the value received for these expenses, Bassett firmly defended the need to continue this practice.

“I will stand up in front of anybody. We’re an organization that is competing against the municipalities around us, competing against other people for their time and we have to treat our special customers special,” he said.

“We have a benefit of having a winning football team in our presence. And I've been on the board 14 years, and it hasn't been a winning football team all the time. As a matter of fact, when I first came on the board, we couldn't give the Buffalo Bills tickets away.”

Bassett acknowledged that WROTB has gotten “slammed for entertainment,” but added that directors have put processes in place to identify who is attending.

“We provide host, and the host entertains our customers. And as far as I know, it's a good investment for us to entertain our what I consider our special customers. And were going to continue that.”

File photo by Joanne Beck.

WROTB earnings in 2023 at an all-time high: CFO

By Mike Pettinella

Preliminary figures from last month’s activity throughout Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. are indicating that the public benefit company will rack up another record year in 2023.

“Our preliminary numbers for December as well as the last quarter of the year were such that it looks like we’ll have achieved record earnings for ’23,” said WROTB Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach during Thursday’s board of directors meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming. “It’s trending toward $9.3 million to $9.4 million.”

Leach said that earnings in October and November rose to $1,078,193 – up more than $500,000 than the anticipated in the corporation’s operating plan.

In light of that, $44,091 was distributed to WROTB’s 17 member municipalities in surcharge for the month of November.

As reported on Thursday, Dennis Morgan, director representing the City of Rochester, was elected by the board to serve as chair.

The vice chair position will be held by Edward Morgan (Orleans County), who served in the same capacity for many years before the board’s dismantling by New York State last spring.

In other developments, the board approved:

  • A contract with former Buffalo Sabre Danny Gare for “goodwill appearances” on behalf of WROTB in 2024. The pact calls for Gare to receive $29,000, with details to be spelled out in the near future.
  • A one-year contract with Great Lakes Environmental & Safety Consultants, Inc., for $20,400 for “continual workplace safety compliance assistance.”
  • A proposal from L&M Specialty Fabrication of Batavia for $90,853.58 for a complete custom gate with electric and truck modifications for the harness horse track at Batavia Downs.
  • A contract with Jim Fink for one year at $1,500 per month to support WROTB’s social media marketing and provide organizational updates to staff.

WROTB's new director from Erie County fires off slew of questions; board grants raises to senior officers

By Mike Pettinella
Bassett and Wojtaszek
Dennis Bassett, left, was elected as chairman of the board of directors of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. at Thursday morning's meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming. At right is President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Timothy Callan, the newest appointee to the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board, isn’t able to vote yet – he’s waiting for his license from the New York Gaming Commission – but that didn’t prevent him from questioning the other directors and WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek on several matters Thursday morning.

Callan, the Erie County Deputy County comptroller, is representing Erie County on the board after his appointment by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Callan’s boss, County Comptroller Kevin Hardwick, has been an outspoken critic of the public benefit company’s policies and practices.

He is replacing Jennifer Hibit, secretary of the Erie County Democratic Committee, who resigned due to a state law prohibiting “party officers” from serving on the WROTB board.

As Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester), who was elected unanimously today as the board chair for the remainder of his four-year term, led the meeting, Callan made his presence known, seeking answers about the corporation’s hiring practices, salary adjustments, branches, lobbying firms and insurance.

When Personnel Committee Chair Elliott Winter (Niagara County) introduced the establishment of a new position, assistant general manager for Food & Beverage, Callan sought information about WROTB’s hiring practices.

Wojtaszek said the new job is not a union position, adding that employees coming in at “Grade 6 or below are hired by me, after posting and after an interview usually with the department head, and the higher level positions are hired by the board.”

Callan said that the proposition of a new assistant general manager “prompted me to ask these general questions about who hires, interviews, makes decisions on personnel.”

Responding, Wojtaszek said that, in this case, he would be the one doing the hiring.

Callan then asked for a document showing the different positions in the corporation, with Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach pointing him to the operating plan for 2024. After that, Callan requested a copy of the WROTB organizational chart.

Next on Winter’s report were monthly salary adjustments for the corporation’s senior management team -- $1,250 for Wojtaszek, $1,041.67 for Leach, $625 each for VP/Administration William White and Chief Operating Officer Scott Kiedrowski and $416.67 for VP/Operations Sean Schiano.

Winter based the raises -- ranging from $15,000 per year for Wojtaszek to $5,000 per year for Schiano -- on “the success of the corporation in 2023.”

Callan asked what the salaries would be after the adjustments, with Wojtaszek answering, “we can get you those numbers.”

The Batavian received those numbers from Leach in an email this afternoon.

The increases, which were approved unanimously by the board, bump the salaries up as follows:

  • Wojtaszek, $299,128
  • Leach, $244,045
  • Kiedrowski, $180,098
  • White, $174,898
  • Schiano, $142,072.

“These are considerable salary adjustments,” Callan noted. 

Bassett responded, “They really aren’t,” and asked Director Jimmy Wilmot (Monroe County), who has experience in the gaming industry, to “talk big picture” about the competitive environment facing casinos such as Batavia Downs Gaming.

“I won’t get into the weeds about private businesses that I’ve participated in … but this industry in general is very nomadic; to keep people, you have to pay them,” Wilmot said. 

Callan said he understood that, adding that “this is a governmental entity.”

“This is a government entity that is competing in a very competitive commercial environment,” Bassett offered. “And if we're going to -- as we talked in our committee meeting yesterday -- if we're going to keep leading-edge people that manage this business the way we would like them to manage it and lead the way we have led …”

He then cited 2023 statistics that indicate Batavia Downs Gaming increased by 11 percent in net win (the amount in the video lottery terminals after payouts), by 8.4 percent in attendance, by 14 percent in beverage and food sales and by 15 percent in hotel sales and suites.

“And we increased our distribution to municipalities which is key to me and most important to me; that was up over 9 percent,” he added. “This board felt that with those gains – and it doesn’t happen every year – and with the success this leadership had in 2023 … it was important to reward the leadership team.”

Callan then asked if each one of those officers had contracts (they do) and if the contracts provide for adjustments such as these and annual cost-of-living adjustments.

The answer he received was that there are no cost-of-living provisions in the contract and that the officers’ base compensation can be reviewed only by the board of directors.

“When was the last time that these five individuals had compensation adjustments?” Callan asked.

The board authorized contracts for each of these officers in May 2023, just prior to the reorganization of the board by the state government, and each of the five received substantial raises at that time as well.

Callan’s next topic was the status of WROTB’s eight branch locations, or what used to be called OTB parlors. 

“It’s my impression or maybe more than an impression that the branch locations don't make a lot of money and, in many cases, are negative in the corporation’s financial statement,” he said. “The cost to operate the branches is more than the revenue coming in from the branches.”

Callan wanted to know if there is a plan in place pertaining to the branches, wondered out loud what happens to employees when branches are closed and asked whether there are plans to close more branches in 2024.

Bassett acknowledged that the branch operation side of the company is under scrutiny.

“We have been looking at the branches, and we have been closing branches that were not profitable,” he said. “And a number of employees in those branches have been retiring. And what I presented to the leadership team yesterday was a strategic plan.”

He said that part of the strategic plan is to “reinvent” the branches “because we do want WROTB out in the community and how we can work with those branches to better have them be a part of the overall look and feel of our organization.”

In previous meetings, Wojtaszek informed the board that management was taking a hard look at the branches, and he reiterated that at Thursday’s meeting.

“The answer is that we will be looking at the branches very shortly -- within the next couple of months,” he said. “We haven't made any decisions. We talked about previously meeting with the branches and the employees ahead of time, and that is what we intend to do before we make any decisions.”

Leach said that seven of the eight branches were not profitable in 2022 but did point out that revenue from branch activity does contribute to the surcharge distributed to the 17 member municipalities.

Further discussion of the branches, initiated by Callan, focused on whether the corporation owned or leased the buildings and how sales of those buildings are recorded.

Three resolutions before the board spelled out six-month extensions with three Albany-based lobbying firms – Bolton-St. Johns at $8,500 per month, Upstate Strategic Advisors at $3,500 per month, and Mercury Public Affairs at $8,000 per month.

On this subject, Callan asked whether the corporation was getting its money’s worth and whether there were metrics in place to gauge its effectiveness.

“Generally speaking, what are the lobbyists doing? Are they lobbying state legislators? Are they lobbying the governor’s office? Are they interacting with the Gaming Commission? Are they interacting with local governments?” he said.

“All of the above,” Wojtaszek said.

Continuing, “We discussed some topics and, as you said earlier, are not appropriate to discuss in a public forum. We have certain items that we're going to ask them to look at, and we certainly will share that with you in another setting.”

Bassett said the board desires to put metrics in place to be able to evaluate the success of the lobbyists.

“We want to … have a level of specificity around those individuals that we’re hiring and the results they provide to this board.”

All three resolutions passed without a “no” vote.

Directors passed a resolution to contract with Travelers Insurance Co. through Dec. 10, 2024, for property insurance for the Hotel at Batavia Downs. The premium is set at $59,261.

With that, Callan asked about the process of contracting with insurance companies.

Wojtaszek said management is reviewing proposals for Batavia Downs Gaming, with the intention of using a competitive bidding process. Garland Insurance of Phoenix, Ariz., has provided insurance for the facility since 2016.

Batavia Downs announces early 2024 lineup of events

By Joanne Beck

Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has announced the lineup for the Park Place Events Center for the first three months of 2024. 

On Thursday, January 11, Batavia Downs welcomes back the Polka Buzz tapings with Polka Band Seven and WBBZ.  Tickets are just $10 and you get $10 back in Free Play.  Doors open at 6 p.m. with the tapings starting at 7 p.m.  Tickets are available now on

The BBQ and Bourbon Dinner returns for two nights on February 2 and 3.  Enjoy flights of BBQ and samples from Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek as staff gives insight into the history of the brands.  Each attendee receives $50 Free Play and there will be prize drawings as well.  Doors open at 5:15 p.m., and the event begins at 5:30 p.m.  This event is only available by purchasing a hotel package, details can be found at

Beatle-Mania Magic makes their Batavia Downs debut on Friday, February 9.  Doors are at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.  A national touring Beatles Tribute band will recreate Beatles concerts with identical costumes, equipment and spot on harmonies.  Tickets start at $15 and guests get $10 back in Free Play.  Tickets are available now on  Hotel packages that include tickets are available as well.

The 5th annual Batavia Brew Fest, presented by Genesee Brewery and Rohrbach Brewing Company is back on Saturday, February 17 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.  For $30, attendees receive two and a half hours of beer sampling from many WNY breweries.  Early bird tickets available until January 29 for just $25.  Light snacks will be served and attendees will receive a commemorative plastic sampling mug along with $15 in Free Play.  Hotel packages that include tickets are available as well.

The Downs welcomes their first Prince Tribute with LoVeSeXy Tribute 2 the music of Prince on Saturday, March 9.  Doors are at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.  They’ll perform a remarkable, spot-on sound-alike, high-energy show featuring a wide range of songs including all of PRINCE’s greatest hits, from his early years and throughout his long career.  Tickets start at $15 and guests get $10 back in Free Play.  Tickets are available now on  Hotel packages that include tickets are available as well.

Returning again after several years of sold out shows is Music of the Stars on Saturday, March 23.  Doors are at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.   The high-energy seven-piece band pays tribute to internationally famous artists, including Tom Jones, The Bee Gees, Neil Diamond, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Gary Puckett, Elvis, The Beatles and many more. Tickets start at $15 and guests get $10 back in Free Play.  Tickets are available now on  Hotel packages that include tickets are available as well.

Batavia Downs is excited to welcome RECORD RIOT, a vinyl record vendor show on Sunday, March 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  With 40 dealer tables and more than 10,000 LPs in the room, attendees will be sure to have a great time browsing a wide variety of music while connecting with fellow music lovers.  Details can be found online at:  $10 Early Bird Tickets or regular $5 admission tickets can be purchased at the door.  Each ticket comes with $5 in Free Play for the gaming floor.

“We have more events scheduled in 2024 than ever before, “ said Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO for Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel.  “These concert events are always well received by our guests, and we are excited to bring back the Brew Fest with our partners at Genesee and Rohrbach.  With a newfound interest in record collecting, we’re sure that our first onsite Record Riot vendor show will be well attended.  We’re looking forward to entertaining the people of Western New York over the next few months.”

Again, tickets are available now on

Hotel Packages for select events can be found on the hotel deals page at

Other events scheduled for the 1st Quarter of 2024 at Batavia Downs include the Experience Psychic Fair January 12 to 14 and the Legends & Stars Sports Expo on the last weekend in February.  Information on these events will be found in the coming weeks HERE.

Board OKs 4 1/2 percent raise for WROTB employees, feasibility study for expansion of Hotel at Batavia Downs

By Mike Pettinella

A raise for all Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. employees, a plan to expand The Hotel at Batavia Downs and an application to add more terminals to the gaming floor.

Those items and the passage of about 65 resolutions that had been in the hopper for up to three months gave WROTB directors plenty of activity at this morning’s board meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road.

Directors voted in favor of a resolution granting all employees of the public benefit company a 4 ½ percent raise, effective Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2024.

“The organization is only as good as the people who support the organization,” said Temporary Chair Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester). “… It a step in the right direction for us as a board.”

The pay increase extends to all employees, union and non-union, including senior management, who were given a three-year contract last spring.

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek said the (United Professional & Service Employees) Union signed a contract “that gives those workers the same raise as the entire corporation.”

“In the old days, they had a separate clause in there where they would have a raise depending upon what they negotiated that year,” he said. “But the latest contract that they signed, they get the same as every other employee at WROTB.”

The resolutions stated that Batavia Downs Gaming’s net win (money left in the gaming machines after payouts to customers) rose by $7.2 million from 2022 to 2023 and attendance increased by more than 58,000 during that same period. Additionally, food and beverage, and hotel room sales increased by 14 percent.

Update: Antonella Rotilio, UPSEU labor relations representative, said that the union is "very pleased that the board acknowledges the success of the corporation because of the members and the employees. Those are big steps."


The board passed two resolutions pertaining to The Hotel at Batavia Downs – one to extend its contract with Hart Hotel Inc. to manage the 84-room facility for three more years at a cost not to exceed $9,000 per month and the other to authorize spending up to $100,000 for a feasibility study to determine if expansion is warranted.

Wojtaszek said that Dave Hart, owner of Hart Hotel Inc., will “take the lead on looking for an architect to do the drawing and for a company to study how an expansion would affect our business.”

He said the board will not make a decision until the feasibility study is complete and submitted for review. He said adding 40 rooms has been talked about but “nothing is definite at this point.”


Vice President/Operations Sean Schiano has applied to the New York State Gaming Commission for the right to add 18 more Video Lottery Terminals to the gaming floor.

Wojtaszek said the addition of 18 games would max out the floor, increasing the total number to 928.

“After that (approval) we probably will not have much more room to expand on the current floor, so we’d have to take a different approach,” he said. “But those 18 will fit on our current makeup.”

In other action, the board voted to approve the 2024 Operating Plan that was submitted by Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach and her staff. 

Previously: Member municipality distributions to approach $10 million in 2024: WROTB chief financial officer

WROTB's Erie County director resigns due to state law prohibiting 'party officials'; five 'public officials' can stay

By Mike Pettinella

The makeup of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors is changing once again.

As a result of a New York State law prohibiting political party officials from obtaining a license from the state Gaming Commission to serve on the WROTB board, Jennifer Hibit, who was appointed to represent Erie County in June, has resigned.

Hibit is the secretary of the Erie County Democratic Committee.

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek today confirmed that Hibit is no longer on the 17-member board and has been replaced by Deputy County Comptroller Timothy Callan.

Callan was not at this morning’s directors’ meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming because he has yet to receive his license from the Gaming Commission.

Following the meeting, Wojtaszek told The Batavian that the law covers two areas – someone who is a party officer and someone who is a public officer that potentially could have a conflict of interest.

“The law defines a party officer as someone with a national, state or county political committee, and that applies to Hibit as well as Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney (City of Buffalo representative),” he said.

Wojtaszek noted that Rodriguez-Dabney, who is the vice chair of the Erie County Democratic Committee, has not indicated whether she will be resigning yet.

Continuing, he said the when looking at the public officer portion of the law, it defines someone that could be ineligible as an elected or appointed official “who has a conflict due to dealing with the pari-mutuel betting process or taxation thereof.”

When exploring that section of the law, there are five current WROTB directors that fall into that category:

-- Terrance Baxter, Moravia (Cayuga County) town supervisor;
-- Edward Morgan, Orleans County legislator;
-- Paul Bartow, Schuyler County planning commission and historical society board member;
-- Michael Horton, Savona (Steuben County) Village Court judge;
-- Susan Way, member of the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors.

Wojtaszek said those five were required to sign a form indicating there was no conflict of interest, action that was confirmed by Morgan during a break in today’s meeting.

“They can stay on the board as long as they certify that there is no conflict and that the prohibition does not apply to them,” Wojtaszek added.

With Hibit not there because of her resignation and Rodriguez-Dabney also absent, the board needed the presence of Monroe County director James A. Wilmot to be in attendance – and he was -- to have a quorum. Erie County has 24 votes and Buffalo has 10 out of the 100 votes in the weighted voting system; Monroe County has 20 votes.

Hibit’s replacement, Callan, works for County Comptroller Kevin Hardwick, who has publicly spoken out against WROTB’s policies and practices.

In a report from a Buffalo-based publication, Hibit said she had disclosed her role with the Democratic Committee when she applied for the position, and a Gaming Commission official stated that it was an oversight until recently.

In a related matter, the board is scheduled to vote on a new permanent chairperson at its January meeting. Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester) has been serving as the temporary chair.

Borrello calls out governor for failing to forge new gaming pact with Seneca Nation; hints of 'extension'

By Mike Pettinella
George Borrello

Calling it a “failure of the governor’s office and her team,” State Sen. George Borrello (photo at right) voiced his frustration earlier this week with New York’s inability to forge a new gaming agreement with the Seneca Nation of Indians.

The contract, officially known as the Seneca Nation Compact, expires on Dec. 9 -- just 15 days away.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and Seneca Nation leadership thought they had a preliminary deal five months ago, but that was quashed by state lawmakers when it was learned – after the fact -- that the new compact terms included placement of a Seneca Nation-operated casino in Rochester.

Since then, there hasn’t been any news about the status of a new contract, and Borrello, along with other local politicians, isn’t happy about it.

“I've heard that they're trying to sign some kind of an extension,” he said by telephone on Monday. “But really, this is a failure of the governor's office and her team to not negotiate in a timely manner.

“There have been just many broken promises, agreements in principle where the governor backed out. It's just that the governor's team has not been negotiating in good faith. And we've been trying to bring light to the fact that they need to come to the table in good faith.”

Borrello said that once the deadline passes (barring an extension), Seneca Nation has no obligation to pay out any funds to the state because the contract will have expired.

“It really behooves the governor to fix it immediately,” he added.

Borrello, noting that the original compact was signed in 2002, said New York State “changed the rules of the game and pulled the rug out from underneath the Seneca Nation when they created three state-run casinos.”

“And you have sports gaming now, which wasn’t in place then,” he said. “New York State has saturated the market, and that has had a negative impact on revenue. So, I don’t think the previous contract is fair in light of the new situation.”

Per the original compact, the Seneca Nation pays 25 percent of its revenues on slot machines and other games to the state in exchange for the right to offer gaming west of Route 14.

The Seneca Nation currently owns and operates three casinos: the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel on the Niagara Falls Territory in Niagara Falls, New York; the Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca on the Allegany Territory; and the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in downtown Buffalo on the Buffalo Creek Territory.

Borrello represents the nation’s interests in Allegany and Cattaraugus territories.

According to a published report in The Buffalo News, the Senecas had agreed to pay 19.5 percent of revenue on slot machines to the state, but only if a Rochester casino was included. Now, they are seeking a lower rate.

A call to Rickey Armstrong, Seneca Nations president, was not returned.

Henry Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., which is based at Batavia Downs Gaming, said he agreed with Borrello that the market is oversaturated and is supporting the Fair Compact for All coalition that is representing gaming, organized labor, and community interests across the Finger Lakes and Western New York regions.

Members of the coalition, which includes Batavia Downs Gaming, del Lago Resort & Casino, Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack and Hamburg Gaming, said their goal is to ensure a transparent and equitable process as New York negotiates a new gaming compact with the Seneca Nation.

“We’ve combined to at least get the message out that we think a further gaming facility in the Rochester/Monroe County area would be oversaturating the market,” Wojtaszek said. “This would not be a good thing for the employees, it wouldn’t be a good thing for the communities and it wouldn’t be a good thing for the municipalities that receive funds (from earnings at Batavia Downs and elsewhere). It’s oversaturated even according to the state’s own studies that they’ve commissioned.”

Borrello said that even if an agreement is reached prior to Dec. 9, there are several hurdles to cross before ratification.

“Whatever agreement is reached, it has to be approved by the New York State Legislature,” he explained. “And it has to be approved by a vote of the people of the Seneca Nation, and it has to be approved by the Federal Department of Interior.”

WROTB president says health insurance provided to only three long-serving directors

By Mike Pettinella

Other than three longtime Western New York Off-Track Betting Corp. directors, no members of the company’s board are receiving or will be eligible to receive health insurance benefits going forward.

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek, responding to a Freedom of Information Law request from The Batavian today, said that the public benefit company is paying the health insurance premiums for Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester), Thomas Wamp (Livingston County) and Richard Ricci (Seneca County).

The board of directors consists of 17 members, representing 15 counties plus the cities of Rochester and Buffalo.

“These individuals have qualified for a Medicare plan through Western Regional OTB due to their longevity prior to the board being terminated by state mandate,” Wojtaszek said. “No one else on the board has any coverage.”

New York State legislation last May dismantled the previous board and forced the municipalities to either reappoint the director or appoint someone new. Bassett, Wamp and Ricci were reappointed along with seven other rural county directors.

Following Wednesday’s board meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming, Wojtaszek reported that WROTB’s revamped health insurance plan for employees, other than board members, will be unveiled soon.

“We have the members of the (Labor Management Health Fund) coming in to speak with our employees within the next two to three weeks to inform them of the program,” he said. “And we'll see who takes advantage of it.”

Wojtaszek said two programs will be offered, with an eye on providing something affordable for younger workers and their families. He said WROTB is part of a large consortium with other businesses in the area.

WROTB’s program is a self-insured one where the company pays the cost of claims and also a firm to administer the plan.

When pressed about board members’ health insurance – something that has been in the press for several months and labeled as a “gold-plated” plan for directors, Wojtaszek said all of that changed for any board member approved after July 1, 2021.

“Nobody who is a board member currently is involved in our active (LMHF) program. They could be on Medicare because of an old program (referring to Bassett, Wamp and Ricci),” he said.

Directors who had health insurance through WROTB prior to the reorganization this summer are no longer eligible for the corporation’s LMHF plan, he said. The plan is administered by Lawley Insurance.

In related action, the board approved a resolution to renew a contract with Garland Insurance & Financial Services of Phoenix, Ariz., to provide commercial insurance – liability, property and directors & officers – from through May 31, 2024 at a cost of $1,147,215.46.

Wojtaszek said the premium reflects an increase of 8 percent. 

He also mentioned that WROTB has hired a consultant, Alterity Group, to work on a bidding process after the contract expires. WROTB has contracted with Garland since 2015, he said.

Member municipality distributions to approach $10 million in 2024: WROTB chief financial officer

By Mike Pettinella

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. management is projecting net revenue from its racing and gaming operations to approach $86.4 million in 2024, resulting in nearly $10 million in surcharge and earnings to be distributed to its 17 member municipalities.

At Wednesday’s board of directors meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road, WROTB Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach went over the operating plan – or budget – for next year.

The plan is a comprehensive document detailing income and expense streams for all aspects of the public benefit company, and is based on actual numbers through October of this year and industry trends.

“It’s a work in progress,” Leach said, but acknowledged that it close to being finalized. The final plan will be presented to the board for review at its December meeting. After board approval, it is submitted to the New York State Gaming Commission.

According to the report, the 17 municipalities, including Genesee County, are expected to receive $606,616 in surcharge distributions and $9,268,586 in earnings distribution for a total of $9,875,202 in the 2024 calendar year. That is up from $9,654,748 to be distributed in 2023.

Surcharge funds are derived from a 5 percent fee collected from patrons on winning wagers at WROTB branches and EZ Bet locations. Leach said the earnings distribution is about 11 percent of the net revenue from operations.

While the 2024 distribution projections reflect the corporation’s record earnings the past two years, Leach said the numbers are more impressive when looking back to 2019, when surcharge and earnings distributions hit the $3.6 million mark, and considering the impact of COVID-19 the following year.

WROTB lost $9.6 million in 2020, Leach reported. Despite that, the corporation has and is projected to distribute $38 million in surcharge and earnings for the six-year period, 2019-2024.

“We ate into our coffers some $9.6 million in 2020. And that, from a financial perspective, is incredible if you think about it. That we will be distributing and anticipate, project, to distribute $38 million,” she said.

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek added that profit realized in that year, beside the Payroll Protection Plan money to keep employees on the job, was from the off-track betting internet wagering side.

Batavia Downs Gaming was closed for six months due to the pandemic. It has bounced back strongly, however, with revenues, net win (credits played into the Video Lottery Terminals minus credits won) and distributions increasing each year. Leach is anticipating the net win total to increase to $89 million in 2024.

Leach and Wojtaszek touted the “very good news” when talking about gaming, food and beverage, and The Hotel at Batavia Downs, but painted a different picture when the subject turned to the harness horse racing industry and the financial health of the corporation’s eight brick-and-mortar OTB branches.

Only two of the branches – Lyell Avenue in Rochester and Clinton in Erie County – are expected to be profitable in 2024. Operational losses of the branches are at $418,202 through Oct. 30, 2023, continuing a downward trend.

Leach reported that all of WROTB’s EZ Bet (self-service) locations, however, have increased the company’s bottom line; none are in the red.

“On the OTB pari-mutuel side, they’re competing for the gambling dollar with sports betting, which came into New York State in January 2022,” she said. “Plus, we’re required to make statutory payments to other racing entities in New York State based on antiquated handle numbers from 1993 and 2002 when the handle was much more robust. We’re getting no legislative relief on that end.”

Wojtaszek said a “day of reckoning is coming” for horse racing, again mentioning sports betting and also a doping scandal that has rocked the industry.

“The sport has been damaged. The numbers are down,” he said. “Jackie's just giving the numbers from the last couple of years. If you look at what our handle was relative to OTB, when you go back a decade or two, it was $200 million. That was the handle -- $200 million.”

He said the horse racing industry needs to “police itself” better. He mentioned a recent CBS “60 Minutes” story that focused on a doping (drug) scandal that has resulted in deaths to numerous horses and prompted Congress to create the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to institute uniform rules for the sport across the country.

Wojtaszek said WROTB is working with a consultant to help the corporation going forward “but it’s going to be much more expensive to have our live racing relative to the testing. But it’s something that’s necessary.”

State law mandates that Batavia Downs Gaming must operate a horse track to keep its gaming license.

The corporation has reduced the number of OTB branches (or parlors) over the years and more cutting may be on the way.

Director Vincent Horrigan (Chautauqua County) asked if WROTB will continue “to live with” the branch losses or “do we turn it around?”

“That’s a great question and worth a discussion after the first of the year,” Wojtaszek replied.

Currently, the eight branches – located in Auburn, Jamestown, Erie County (two), Monroe County (three) and Niagara County -- employ 31 people.

Erie County director ready to look into all aspects of WROTB operation

By Mike Pettinella
Jennifer Hibit

The Erie County representative on the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board today said it is incumbent upon her colleagues to look into the company’s legal issues that have yet to be resolved.

“I think we need to address those issues,” said Jennifer Hibit, (photo at right), responding to a question about the status of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former WROTB executive Michael Nolan and a reported FBI investigation into the corporation’s hiring practices.

“I think we need to look into them. And I think when all the new board members are seated, I think we'll look into those issues and hear from both sides.”

Hibit was appointed to the board in June, about a month after the previous board was dismantled as a result of legislation approved by Gov. Kathy Hochul and leaders of the Assembly and Senate.

The director of human resources at the Erie County Water Authority, Hibit is also the secretary of the Erie County Democratic Committee and the former chief of staff for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

She said she looks forward to learning more about the company in order to make educated decisions.

“I think we need to know what's happening. I think it's important to be informed. And if we can help put those things behind us and move forward, then that's what I'm here to do,” she said.

Hibit said she had made no judgments before joining the board despite what has been circulating in the media.

“I came in with an open mind, right? There’s always room for improvement every place you go,” she said. “And I think that's my job here is to listen, learn, and contribute to making Western New York Regional OTB better. And that's what I plan to do.”

At last month’s board meeting, Hibit voted against appointing Dennis Bassett, a Democrat representing the City of Rochester, as the board’s permanent chairperson. She said her decision was more procedural.

“I didn't think that it was fair to cast a vote for a chair moving forward, and I didn't realize that we elected a chair in January without all of the new members present and without of them all having a say in that,” she explained. “So that was really my point behind that.”

The City of Buffalo’s representative, Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, has yet to obtain her license to serve from the New York Gaming Commission, and Monroe County’s representative, James A. Wilmot, was not at the October meeting.

“I just think they should have a say in the chair. So, I just voted for one meeting (to make Bassett the temporary chair) to move the process forward,” she offered. “I’m glad that Dennis took the seat.”

Hibit's vote holds the most power on the board, which now operates under a weighted voting system based on the population of the municipality.

Looking ahead, Hibit said she will work toward measures to ensure transparency. Last month, she suggested that the board meetings be livestreamed to the public.

“Transparency is super important,” she said. “Absolutely.”

WROTB board seeks accountability when it comes to sporting, entertainment events in Buffalo, Rochester

By Mike Pettinella

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. directors today took on the task of passing a couple dozen resolutions that had been set aside, so to speak, while members of the revamped board obtained their licensing and right to vote from the New York Gaming Commission.

Many of the resolutions dealt with routine contract renewals such as maintenance, promotions and computers, and were passed with little or no discussion.

Such wasn’t the case for Resolution #62-2023, a measure authorizing the public benefit company to spend up to $25,000 through the end of the year for food and beverages at Highmark Stadium for Buffalo Bills’ games and concerts. When that came up, directors were ready with their questions.

The use of sporting event and concert tickets has been a sore subject for WROTB management since a 2021 audit from the state Comptroller’s office that, among other things, pointed out a lack of oversight of perks given to major players at Batavia Downs Gaming.

Erie County Director Jennifer Hibit, who holds the most voting power under the weighted voting system installed last May, asked whether a list of who attended a specific event could be provided to the board.

Marketing Director Ryan Hasenauer said he keeps track of who received the tickets, adding that the tickets could then be given to somebody else.

Hibit said, “I think it would be helpful to see who’s attended.”

“I mean, we know there have been issues with this in the past, and I think it’s important to know who’s attending these events – who the tickets went to,” she said.

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek credited Hasenauer for maintaining the ticket list.

“And that’s why we’ve released it to the public and anybody else who has “FOILed” that information,” Wojtaszek said, speaking of the Freedom of Information Law.

Hasenauer then referred to the state Comptroller’s audit.

“Their recommendation was to track the tickets in the way that we are doing – the way we were already doing it – and they wanted to make sure we’re doing that moving forward,” he said. “What we’re doing now is at the recommendation of the state.”

A suggestion then was made to have a “sign-up sheet” at the events, not only for suites at Highmark Stadium but also when tickets are used for events at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester and the KeyBank Center in Buffalo.

Director Edward Morgan (Orleans County) said he didn’t think that was necessary because the board is now keen to the situation and will be monitoring events more closely.

Hasenauer clarified that tickets are awarded in two ways – to high rollers who reach a certain level of activity and as giveaways on “soft nights” such as Tuesdays and Wednesdays to drive traffic to the Park Road facility.

Temporary Chair Dennis Bassett (City of Rochester) said that “in the spirit of transparency, we should know in advance who is going to use the tickets.”

Wojtaszek said that once the ticket is issued, it belongs to the recipient. 

“We can’t stop them from giving it to someone else,” he noted.

Bassett then replied, “My goal is not to stop them, my goal is that when we get questioned, I’d like to be able to articulate that we're using these things in a way we want to use. I'm not I'm not trying to police them …”

Director James Wilmot (Monroe County) said he has attended events hosted by other businesses and never has seen a sign-up sheet.

“Whether I bring a spouse, friend, colleague, I'm not one of those people to get suspicious with sign-up sheets, but I know a lot of people that would,” he said. “And based on my previous experience with gamblers, who own various properties, they have no interest in listing who's with them. And there's some privacy stuff with that too.”

Hibit said she understood that once the ticket was issued, WROTB had no right to it. She did, however, ask if the board could see a report of the event “to see if there’s an issue that we could address it moving forward.”

Bassett said he appreciated the dialogue over this matter, acknowledging that the board “might be a little sensitive because we’ve been scrutinized with regard to these tickets.”

“We don’t want to over-scrutinize ourselves and cause problems with the people that we want to entertain ... so, I’m not in favor of a sign-in.”

Hasenauer advised that the resolution, as well as similar measures at Blue Cross Arena ($30,000 for food and beverages) and KeyBank Center ($75,000 for food and beverages), will run through the 2023 season and into the spring of 2024. All three resolutions passed unanimously.

In other action, the board:

-- Approved spending $275,000 with Tops Friendly Markets for $20 gift cards used to promote the Hotel at Batavia Downs. Hasenauer said the Sunday through Thursday promotion, which started in June 2022, has been a tremendous success. “We’re booking over 700 rooms a month with this package,” he said, adding that most customers use the cards for gas or groceries at the nearby Tops Market.

-- Approved a resolution to conduct winter racing in January and February 2024 on Monday and Thursday afternoons. The Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association has agreed to reimburse WROTB for any and all costs associated with conducting the additional 16 meets.

-- Voted to keep Bassett in the interim chair post through next month’s meeting. The board is expected to decide on a permanent chairperson in January.

-- Held a moment of silence in memory of Kenneth Lauderdale Jr., longtime director from Wayne County, who passed away on Oct. 25.

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.

Mistakes? Yes. Corruption? No, says WROTB's temporary board chair

By Mike Pettinella
Dennis Bassett
From left, President Henry Wojtaszek, Temporary Board Chair Dennis Bassett and VP/Operations Scott Kiedrowski at today's WROTB board meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

While admitting that mistakes have been made, the City of Rochester representative on the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. bristled when “alleged corruption” was brought up during his talk with the media following today’s directors meeting at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road.

City of Rochester representative Dennis Bassett – who was elected as the temporary board chair through November -- took exception to a Buffalo-based reporter’s query about whether the revamped board was intent “on instituting some reforms and cleaning up alleged corruption.”

“Well, we've got not only (new directors) from Erie (County) and (the City of) Buffalo, but we got a new member from Monroe County, which based upon the way the vote goes, that’s pretty good,” Bassett said, referring to the weighted voting system that was put in by New York State mandate last May. “I’d like to say we've got new board members from Erie, from Buffalo, from Monroe County that add new blood.

“And I think corruption is a is a very strong term. I've been on this board, as I said 14 years, and I don't see corruption. We’ve seen some honest procedural mistakes … and we should be held accountable for that. I'd like to say we did everything perfectly, but we haven't. But I think we -- with good intentions – made mistakes.”

Bassett said the board has addressed the problems such as the use of sporting event tickets, the way mileage is reimbursed and health insurance for board members.

“There's been some stubbing of the toes. And yes, I'd like to say we have done … everything right, but we haven’t,” he offered. “We’ve stubbed our toe. But I can also say that in those areas where we’ve had problems, we have corrected them. And that’s the key thing. We’ve listened. We’ve made some very – I would call it -- enthusiastic decisions, whether it be mileage, whether it be our entertainment, whether it be the things that we can control.”

When asked about the former board, which was dominated by Republicans, he said, “Well, you know, to the victor goes the spoils.”

“I'm a Democrat, registered Democrat, and most of the board members during my time were Republicans. And guess what? I never once felt slighted.  I will continue to say on this board, we make business decisions. We owe the municipalities and the two cities to make the best business decisions we can so we can put money in their coffers.

“We don’t stand and say this is a Republican decision or this is a Democrat (decision). Is it a good business decision? And that has been our mantra since I’ve been on the board.”

When he was asked whether spending hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two years on lawyers and lobbyists was a good business decision, Bassett said the board didn’t have “the skill set” to ascertain the correct answers.

“We've had to hire counsel because of some of the things – whether it be the Nolan lawsuit (a wrongful termination suit by former WROTB executive Michael Nolan) … and the (FBI) investigations, sadly to say we had to do some of those things because we didn’t have the skill set to answer the questions that were proposed. But I think we’ve weathered that storm, and I don’t think we’ve got to continue down that path,” he said.

Bassett said he sees the “new blood” as a positive for the board. Actually, six new directors joined the board after the shakeup that terminated the previous board – Jennifer Hibit (Erie County), Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney (Buffalo), James Wilmot (Monroe County), Terrance Baxter (Cayuga County), Paul Bartow (Schuyler County) and Charles Zambito (Genesee County).

“I think it’s good,” Bassett said. “And just the new change we made with having people who are really younger and working, for us to be able to Zoom committee meetings so people can take advantage of getting their ideas (out there) is a big step,”

During this morning’s meeting, the board agreed to give directors the option of attending future committee meetings via Zoom videoconferencing.

It also will be looking into a suggestion from Hibit to livestream the board meetings to, as she said, “make the board more transparent and accessible to the public.”

Bassett emphasized that there will be more transparency going forward and talked about having a strategic plan in place beyond one or two years.

“I've shared with the team that we're on top of the world now,” he said. “We're making good profits. We’re having good numbers. But we need to put together a strategic plan so that we can look out for more than one year, and look at more than several months. How do we look in three and four or five years?

“The world is not going to be the same two and three years from now? So how are we planning? How are we getting ourselves ready for some of the things that may happen that cause us not to be having these record earnings.”

WROTB's Rochester director stands behind Wojtaszek, senior management as record revenues continue

By Mike Pettinella
Dennis Bassett

A longtime director of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. this morning threw his unwavering support behind President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek, stating that the public benefit company has “weathered the storm” to produce record results over the past two years.

“We’re excited about how Henry has kept his eye on the ball,” said Dennis Bassett, the City of Rochester representative since 2009 (photo at right), following the monthly board meeting at WROTB’s Park Place headquarters. “He's been a good leader for Batavia Downs. He's garnered the support of the board, and I think we should continue that support moving forward.”

When asked to comment about the legal turmoil that has surrounded WROTB in recent years – pending lawsuits, a critical report from the New York State Comptroller’s Office and a state-mandated reorganization of the board of directors, Bassett said he sees it more as “opportunities” for the corporation.

“Well, I wouldn’t call it turmoil as much as I would call it opportunities for the board,” he responded. “We went through some times where we were questioned about a number of things, and we feel the board has weathered that storm -- we've weathered the storm.

“We have made sure that we made good business decisions with the hotel. We didn't have concerts three or four years ago. We didn't open up the facility to corporate meetings. Now we have close to 100 corporate meetings now. Five years ago, we probably had five or six corporate meetings.”

Bassett said expanding the facility’s use has been the result of “good board input, its business experience and … the help of leadership to make this place a destination.”

He declined to comment on any pending litigation, which includes a whistleblower lawsuit by former Chief Operating Officer Michael Nolan against WROTB, former Board Chair Richard Bianchi and Wojtaszek.

“That is something that I would like to stay away from. I really don't want to comment on those things,” he said.

Bassett defended the previous board’s decision to extend three-year contracts to senior management – an action that took place in May, just prior to state legislation that disbanded that board and put new voting parameters in place (giving more weight to Democrat Party-controlled municipalities, including Rochester).

“I think our decision to do that was very important because it gives us a little stability with our leadership here at Batavia Downs,” he said. “We don’t want good, talented people to be looking elsewhere. So, the contracts showed that with any change in the board and any changes moving forward, we have a solid group of people who can manage the business. And they've been managing it successfully for the last few years. And this year -- and last year – we’ve seen record results.”

VP/Operations Sean Schiano reported at the meeting that the net win for August of $7.1 million puts that month in the top five all-time and that September's net win is expected to surpass the $7 million mark. Net win is the amount money left in the Video Lottery Terminal after paying out customers.

Directors present at today’s meeting were unable to conduct any official business (such as passing any resolutions) because of the lack of a quorum. With directors from Erie County and the City of Buffalo (Jennifer Hibit and Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, respectively) absent, only 68 percent of the board in terms of voting power was in attendance, Wojtaszek said.

Erie and Monroe, plus Buffalo and Rochester, account for 62 of the 100 votes in the weighted format. Genesee County, the host municipality, has two votes. A group of rural counties is mounting a legal challenge to the state's decision to eliminate the previous board, citing "Home Rule" legislation that has been in place for quite some time.

Wojtaszek said that he expects all of the directors to receive licenses from the State Gaming Commission by the October meeting.

Six rural counties join litigation aimed at overturning changes to WROTB governance

By Mike Pettinella

Lawmakers in six of the 15 counties that benefit from revenues generated by Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. have passed resolutions to participate in a pending lawsuit to overturn changes to the structure and voting format of the public benefit company’s board of directors.

Legislative bodies in Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming, Livingston and Seneca counties have joined Genesee County in an effort to nullify bills passed by New York State -- during budget negotiations in May – that eliminated the board at that time and shifted voting to a weighted system.

Albany’s action transferred the voting power from the rural (predominately Republican counties to the urban (predominately Democratic municipalities of Erie and Monroe counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

Genesee County Attorney James Wujcik today said that he has been talking to lawyers representing the rural counties, confirming that six have signed on thus far. Others rural counties that may opt in are Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Oswego, Wayne and Steuben. The status of Schuyler County is unknown at this point.

“So far, six counties have passed resolutions authorizing their county attorneys to enjoin litigation,” said Wujcik, who added that a draft of the lawsuit is forthcoming.

He also confirmed a report in the Niagara Gazette that Genesee, Niagara and Orleans counties have committed $5,000 each to retain the Lippes Mathias law firm of Buffalo. According to a story on Aug. 1, the newspaper reported that the firm’s lead attorney, Dennis Vacco, will be paid $400 per hour as the “coordinating attorney of all activities” while three others will be paid $375, $350 and $280 per hour.

Should 12 counties sign on to the lawsuit, each would be expected to pay the same amount in attorneys’ and related fees.

Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said that premise of the litigation is “to protect the counties’ Home Rule rights” – the one-county, one-vote format -- that have been in place since WROTB’s creation 50 years ago.

“Genesee County’s position is that we must protect our citizens who, by a referendum, voted to join Western Regional,” Stein said. “People trying to change the result of an election is an overreach, and we can’t let that occur in New York State.”

A portion of the resolution passed by the Genesee County Legislature in June refers to the Home Rule provision, noting that:

WHEREAS, the New York State Court of Appeals recognized in Matter of Moran v. La Guardia, 270 N.Y. 450, 452 that “To repeal or modify a statute requires a legislative act of equal dignity and import.” Nothing less than a Home Rule Message from a majority of the founding counties will suffice, i.e. “the doctrine of Legislative Equivalency”. The doctrine of legislative equivalency has uniformly been applied with respect to the modification and or amendment of prior legislation, and,

WHEREAS, none of the founding counties, especially Genesee County, the home County of WROTB, enacted Home Rule Messages requesting that N.Y. Rac. Pari-Mut. Wag. & Breeding Law § 502, be modified and/or amended, and never authorized a relinquishment of control of WROTB to Erie County, Monroe County, City of Buffalo, and City of Rochester, and WHEREAS, Batavia Downs is located in the Town and City of Batavia in a residential area and this is an important quality of life issue for the host County of Genesee to not be negatively impacted by any change to the Board of Directors make up.

Democratic State Sen. Tim Kennedy of Buffalo initiated action to dismantle the WROTB board and change the voting structure in light of a state Comptroller’s audit that found fault with the corporation’s use of tickets to sporting events (notably, Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres) and concerts; “gold-plated” health insurance for directors, and for President/CEO Henry Wojtaszek’s use of a company vehicle.

Wojtaszek has said that the corporation has taken corrective measures since then, recently stating that management is working on new health insurance options for employees, but not board members.

Union rep: Employees want their ideas to be heard before more Off-Track Betting parlors are closed

By Mike Pettinella

The labor relations agent for the employees union at Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. is calling for an “open and honest" conversation with management and the board of directors concerning the future of the public benefit company's brick-and-mortar OTB branches.

Antonella Rotilio. (photo at right), who attended Thursday’s board meeting at the Park Road facility but was not on the agenda to speak, said recent closings of OTB parlors have occurred without proper communication with the union, and a published report of more closings have branch employees worried that they will be losing their jobs.

“My number one concern is obviously for my members (employees). They had read a few weeks ago in article printed by The Batavian in which (WROTB President/Chief Executive Office) Henry (Wojtaszek) had stated that they were possibly going to be closing more branches. I believe it was five,” Rotilio said by telephone this morning.

“These employees are reading these articles. And they have to go to work. They have to work those jobs, and they just saw that another branch closed (the Phoenix branch in Oswego County was closed at the end of July). And all of them are afraid. This isn't a corporation where they come in and they're there a year and then leave. Some of our members -- a lot of our members of the branches -- have been there 30 years. So, this is a big thing. They've spent their entire adulthood in those branches. It's more than a job; it's their life.”

Rotilio represents workers through the United Professional & Service Employees Union Local 1222 at Batavia Downs Gaming and at eight OTB parlors throughout the corporation’s 15 counties and cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

She was referring to a story in The Batavian following the July board meeting, at which Wojtaszek said management’s plan is to reduce the number of OTB branches from the current eight to five by 2025. He said more emphasis is being placed on EZ Bet, which are self-betting terminals in existing bars and restaurants. WROTB has 27 EZ Bet locations across Western New York.

“When they read an article like that and see what’s happening, they’re nervous,” she added. “So, they thought is, why can't we have a conversation with the board and management because we work at the branches, and we handle the customers. I think a conversation that's open and honest and maybe gives options -- maybe listens to what the members have to say and the ideas that they have to maybe cut costs and keep the operation going – would make them feel like they had a little control over their future. To not know if tomorrow they're going to come into your shop and they say, ‘We're closing,’ is an awful feeling.”

They eight OTB branches are located in Williamsville, Cheektowaga, Auburn, Jamestown, Gates, Penfield, Tonawanda and Rochester. Twenty years or so ago, there were more than 30 branches scattered throughout WROTB’s 15 counties and cities of Buffalo and Rochester.

Rotilio said management and the board owes it to their employees to include them when considering short- and long-term plans for these locations. Instead, she contends, branch workers are hearing from customers about rumors of branch closings.

“Customers will come in and they're telling employees what they're hearing because there's some kind of attachment to either the corporation or someone who works at the corporation,” she said.  “It’s like months before an action is taken and the customer knows, while they employees are thinking, ‘Is this true?’ And the union is not told at all in advance what they’re going to do.”

She said employees at the Military Road branch in Niagara Falls were given 10 days’ notice.

“We were very upset about that, and we reached out to the corporation. And when Phoenix closed, they notified us after the fact,” she said. “That’s why I think meeting with us -- meeting with the members and having an honest conversation and looking at the numbers together – would have a positive impact because everybody is worried about their job.”

Rotilio acknowledged that the handles (revenues) vary at the different branches and said she realizes that the financials dictate company policy.

WROTB officials on Thursday reported that the branches, grouped in with intertrack wagering, Dial-A-Bet, EZ bet, online Batavia Bets and live racing, incurred year-to-date losses of about $600,000. That includes a book loss posted on the sale of the Military Road OTB branch in Niagara Falls.

Contacted this morning, Wojtaszek said that finances “are a big part” of the equation, but said the corporation needs to consider the employees as well.

“Our obligation is to make revenue and turn it over to the member communities,” he said. “To maximize revenue; to make sure that we do work with our employees. As I have said many times, we have the best employees in Western New York, we believe that.

“What will happen in the next few months is that we will discuss the branches and the situation with the various counties that currently have branches in them and find out what their intentions are. We will, obviously, we will include the workers, the employees within that discussion. We will let them know what’s going on. So, that’s certainly the plan.”

Wojtaszek said the COVID-19 pandemic “forced us to take a hard look at where we were going for the future and that’s when we put together the plan that we discussed a few months ago (to close three more branches by 2025).”

“But, certainly we should be discussing with the members of the board where those locations for the branches are and then we should be discussing with those employees, how it affects them. That is the plan.”

When asked if management knew which branches were earmarked for closing, Wojtaszek said the proposal wasn’t etched in stone, but is something that “we are continuously looking at.”

“It’s something that changes over a period of time, depending on the circumstances. If one of these branches are doing better, financially, it might not need to close, or if other circumstances change. But, at the time, it was based upon geography, where EZ Bets were relocated, and in the end, it's always going to be how are they doing financially?”

He said the corporation is not looking to totally eliminate the branches but has indicated that an emphasis is being placed on EZ Bet locations, which are housed in established businesses such as restaurants and/or bars.

Wojtaszek defended WROTB’s decision to close branches in recent months, noting that the corporation sustained losses for a long period of time.

“I think the moves that we have made over the last couple of years were warranted,” he said. “We don't want anybody to lose their jobs or employment. But we'll do what's necessary to make sure that the corporation remains strong. But again, we'll do that with the advice and input from the various board members and also we will speak with our employees as we make any moves going forward.”

He said there will, in fact, be the “open and honest” conversation that Rotilio is advocating.

Batavia Downs kicks off second season Wednesday

By Tim Bojarski
Photo of Kevin Cummings, 2022 leading Dash Driver, 
by Wendy J. Lowery

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

For the first time in two decades, Batavia Downs will hold their second opening day card of the year when the Genesee County oval welcomes back the horsemen, horsewomen, their horses and the fans for the 53-day summer/fall meet that starts on Wednesday (July 26) at 6 p.m. and runs through Saturday (Dec. 9). The earlier winter session set several betting records driven by competitive racing and the next 20 weeks promises to produce the same kind of results.

The opening night card Wednesday includes the first visit of the year by the New York Sire Stakes as the 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings will be on hand to compete in one division for a purse of $106,300. There will also be three Excelsior A races that will go for $20,000 each, bringing the total amount of loot up for grabs to $233,300 for that card. 

Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Western Regional Off-Track Betting and Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel, is excited to welcome racing back to the facility and is appreciative of the many fans that attend the track all season to watch the action in person.

“The excitement of live harness racing begins on Wednesday at the Downs for fans of photo finishes, daily doubles, and exotic wagers and it should  be an electrifying night of fun and entertainment. Our fans will be treated to competitive harness racing and great promotions that tie into our new remodeled Clubhouse, expansive gaming floor and the number one ranked hotel in Batavia. Our staff and those from New York State, will ensure a safe racing meet for drivers and equine athletes and we look forward to everyone joining us for live racing and all the fun that goes with it at the area’s premier entertainment destination,” said Wojtaszek.

The live schedule changes several times throughout the year. Opening week has racing only on Wednesday and Saturday. In August, the action switches to Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from August 1 to August 12 and changes to Wednesday, Friday, Saturday from August 16 through October 28. The lone exception is Friday (Sept. 8) which will be dark in lieu of a Labor Day matinee on Monday (Sept. 4). Then in November and December, racing cuts back to two days a week on Wednesday and Saturday through the close of the meet. Post time for all race days is 6 p.m., except the Labor Day matinee that will start at 1:15 p.m.

Once again there is a hearty slate of stake action courtesy of the New York Sire Stakes. The state-bred series will be in action on Wednesday (July 26), Tuesday (Aug. 1), Wednesday (Aug. 2), Tuesday (Aug. 8), Wednesday (Aug. 16), Saturday (Aug. 26) and Friday (Sept. 1).

There are two notable nights of racing this year. The first is Saturday (Aug. 26) when both 3-year-old colt and filly divisions will be on the same card along with the $75,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Invitational pace, Batavia Down’s signature event. Then on Wednesday (Sept. 13), Batavia Downs was selected to host the NYSS Excelsior finals that will be contested for a total purse of $400,000.

The clubhouse will be open for all race dates and offer a varied menu. Every Saturday will feature a prime rib buffet while the other race nights will be catered by the Center Street Smokehouse. The Railbar will always  be open for live racing.

All the top drivers will be back including Jim Morrill Jr. and Kevin Cummings, who both had the distinction of becoming the first drivers to ever surpass the $1 million mark in earnings in a single meet at Batavia last year. Leading trainers Shawn McDonough, Jennifer Giuliani, Sam Smith, James Clouser Jr. and Dave Russo will also be back along with a host of others.

Don Hoover, Director of Live Racing and Race Secretary at Batavia Downs, is heading into his second year in those positions at the Downs and looks to build upon the successes of last year.

“Overall, I was pleased with the 2022 Summer/Fall live race meet and was pleasantly surprised by the success of the recently concluded January/February winter meet. I look forward to continuing that momentum into the upcoming 2023 Summer/Fall 53-day live race meet, highlighted by the $75,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace and the $400,000 New York Sire Stakes Excelsior Finals,” said Hoover.

Bettors will have plenty of opportunities with a wagering menu that includes three Doubles, 10 Exactas, 10 Trifectas, nine Superfectas, two Pick-3's, two Pick-4's, one Pick-5 and one Jackpot Super High Five available on every 10-race card.

Patrons will also have plenty of promotions to look forward to.

On opening night there will be free programs in the grandstand and the Lotta Cash Giveaway where customers can deposit non-winning tickets wagered on Batavia Downs races for a chance to win two $250 betting vouchers and a Batavia Downs Gaming Play and Stay package that includes one night’s stay at the Batavia Downs Gaming Hotel, $25 in gaming Free Play and a $50 dinner certificate to Fortune’s.

Every Wednesday is the Play and Stay promotion where customers can deposit non-winning tickets wagered on Batavia Downs races for a chance to win a Batavia Downs Gaming Play and Stay package that includes one night’s stay at the Batavia Downs Gaming Hotel, $25 in gaming Free Play and a $50 dinner certificate to Fortune’s.

Then there’s the Wednesday and Saturday Finale promotion where you get $25 gaming Free Play when you wager $25 on the last race at Batavia Downs.

Every live race day offers Match Play Free Play Frenzy where you receive $25 gaming Free Play when you wager $25 at the same time on the same live Batavia Downs race. And there is also the Early Bird Daily Double, where you receive $10 in gaming Free Play when you wager at least $10 at the same time on the Early Daily Double. Plus every live racing program includes a $5 gaming Free Play coupon.

All promotions require participants be Players Club members and gaming Free Play is subject to required base points being earned before redemption. Full rules are available in the program.

You can watch all the live racing action for free on the Batavia Downs YouTube channel and free, full past performance programs for every live race night will be available on the Batavia Downs website under the live racing tab.

Authentically Local