Batavia Downs completed their 2021 race meet on Friday (Dec. 10) and when all the columns were tallied, the track posted very strong wagering numbers over the course of the 55-day session.
The track had its third highest handle ever since Western Regional OTB reopened the track in 2002, with per-race betting up 17%. The increase was fueled by competitive racing on the track and two new wagers that were introduced for the first time this year: the Jackpot Pick-6 and Jackpot Super Hi 5 pentafecta. These bets drew the interest of the bettors by providing large carryovers throughout the meet, including the largest in track history ($25,599).
Having fans back in the grandstand this year impacted wagering in two ways. First, on-track betting at Batavia Downs was up 10% from 2019, as spectators were not allowed in 2020. But the extra live traffic sent the numbers at off-track locations down.
The WROTB locations -- including OTB outlets and Bataviabets.com -- saw betting decline 18% from 2020, which was expected. The 2020 number was an all-time record and a result of the exceptional amount of people who wagered online when patrons weren’t allowed at the track. This year, gamblers took their business back to the track and the numbers reflected it.
However overall betting versus 2020 was up $933,027 or 13%.
“We were happy to welcome back our fans and hold racing in front of a live audience again this year. The crowds were great all summer, driven by our Sunday Dollar Day matinees and our service staff in the clubhouse and on the apron did a great job all year,” said Todd Haight, General Manager/Director of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. “The new wagers, carryovers and guaranteed pools all drove our numbers and our horsemen kept the competition keen on the track. I was very proud of the effort everyone put in to make this meet a success.”
Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Western Regional OTB which owns Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel, was also happy with the results the track had and gave full credit to their associates for the successful year.
"I can't thank our racing fans enough for returning to the track after last year's hiatus. They came back in force and took full advantage of the great amenities we have here. Our newly acquired hotel was sold out on many occasions as a result of the great stay and play deals we offer. People once again enjoyed live racing, gaming, a multitude of concerts and events and all the great restaurant choices on site," said Wojtaszek.
"But none of it would be possible without our great staff that worked tirelessly all year to provide a great experience and I can't thank them enough. Todd (Haight) heads our racing department and he's done another outstanding job presenting and promoting that product, which in turn drove the increase in our handle."
Scott Kiedrowski, Vice President of Operations also lauded the staff and fans of live racing for a successful 2021 meet. He said “We are very grateful to have been able to roar back in 2021 with live racing here at Batavia Downs. Our customers truly are the backbone of our success as a race track here in Genesee County.”
With approval from the New York Gaming Commission, opening day for the 2022 meet at Batavia Downs will be Wednesday (July 20) and feature the New York Sire Stake 2-year-old trotting fillies. They will be only one of eight divisions visiting Genesee County next year to highlight the racing schedule along with the return of Batavia’s signature stake, the $60,000 Robert J. Kane Memorial Pace that will be raced on Saturday (Aug. 26).