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The Bonadio Group

Independent audit report gives WROTB passing grade; Don Hoover hired as live racing general manager

By Mike Pettinella

An independent audit of the Western New York Off-Track Betting Corp. revealed “a clean opinion” with no internal control material weaknesses, according to a certified public accountant with The Bonadio Group.

Randy Shepard, speaking at this morning’s WROTB board of directors meeting at the Park Road facility, said the corporation’s accounting procedures and financial position are in good order.

“From an overall perspective, we did issue an unmodified, or a clean, audit opinion. That's the highest level of assurance that we can give from an audit perspective,” Shepard reported. “And that's very important, as you go to bonding – and this year you did go out to bond – that having a clean opinion impacts your interest rates and things like that. So, a very good process.”

Shepard also said the audit did not identify any material weaknesses in internal control and made no adjustments to financial figures.

“So, when you think about the complexity of the organization, the many moving parts that are here, it's very critical to note that you've got a very strong internal control structure,” he said. “And then, from the perspective of audit adjustments, when we do our audit, we're looking for errors, misstatements, etc. There's millions of dollars that flow through the organization on a monthly basis. And we did not identify any audit adjustments as part of the process.”

He credited Chief Financial Officer Jacquelyne Leach and her staff for their accuracy in keeping the books.

“That’s very important,” he said. “So, when the board is making decisions, making key critical decisions, you're looking at those numbers, you know that they're accurate and that we're not coming in at the end of the year and making adjustments to what you've seen.”

Responding to WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek’s request to talk about about the corporation’s balance sheeting coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shepard said “the rebound has been very nice.”

“Obviously, for the organization, volumes and patron activity levels have been higher here. And that really is demonstrated on the balance sheet in terms of where your cash position is. Your liabilities and your debt are much more manageable now that you’ve refinanced … So, I think your financial position is in a very good spot.”

Wojtaszek said he and the board are “ecstatic” with the audit report.

“We have no issues with in terms of internal controls or anything with our financial statements. They're clean,” he said after the meeting. “There are no issues and in terms of our balance sheet, and we are in a fantastic financial position at Batavia Downs -- especially coming out of a pandemic, where we were shut down for six months having no revenue. We are really in a great financial position.”

When asked if the audit addressed some of the problems found by the New York State Comptroller’s Office regarding the distribution of sports tickets and the use of company vehicles for the years 2017-19, Wojtaszek said all of those issues have been rectified.

“Again, we invited the Comptroller here in the first place,” he said. “We had resolved the majority if not all of the issues even before they came here, and so we feel very comfortable with them coming in here and anything they had pointed out. We were looking for any good advice and we took that advice.

“Jackie Leach and her accounting staff have done a great job of making sure that our financial house is in order.”

In other developments, the board passed several resolutions, including the following:

  • The hiring of Don Hoover to the consolidated position of general manager of live racing and race secretary, effective June 1 through Dec. 31 at a monthly salary of $12,000. Hoover, who has worked at several tracks, including Saratoga and Vernon Downs, replaces Todd Haight, who retired as the live racing GM after 20 years in Batavia.
  • A contract with Mark Lowe to serve as live racing consultant from April 1 through Dec. 31 at a rate of $3,500 per month.
  • A change order in a contract with Edward Hulme, Inc., of Warsaw, which is building a new warehouse and cold storage facility on the property. The action approves spending an additional $17,000 to modify the sidewalk portion of the project. Wojtaszek said he expects the $1 million, 5,000-square-foot structure to be done in May.
  • Contracts, with the total amount not to exceed $350,000, with several musical acts that will be performing at the 2022 Summer Concert Series at Batavia Downs. The series kicks off on June 17 with Tommy DeCarlo, current lead singer of Boston, and Rudy Cardenas, a Journey tribute vocalist.

Also, it was announced that $314,000 in winning tickets from OTB parlors have yet to be cashed. If not redeemed by the end of this month, the funds will go into the state treasury.

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