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September 3, 2020 - 12:52pm

Press release:

Officials at Batavia Downs today announced that in preparation for the Kentucky Derby running this weekend, they have implemented several safety procedures in order to keep those wishing to make a wager safe.

All Western OTB Branches will open at 10:30 a.m. on Friday for advance wagering which will help guest avoid the crowds. All branches will open at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. All branches will have enter and exit only signs to help direct traffic.

As in year’s past, there will be extra staff on site to help give out free programs, answer any questions and help control the flow of traffic to help maintain safe social distancing. Face coverings are required to be worn inside all branches.

Due to COVID-19, there will not be any prize drawings at the branches this year and the Batavia Downs Simulcast Center will be closed. The gaming floor also remains closed at this time.

Wagers can also be placed on BataviaBets.com from a phone, tablet or computer. Customers can also wager over the telephone by calling the Dial-A-Bet service at 1-800-724-4000.

“The Triple Crown may be out of order this year, but we look forward to welcoming Derby bettors to our branches and EZ bets,” said Todd Haight, general manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs. “If people are still hesitant to venture out, our Batavia Bets platform is a nice easy way to make a wager from the comfort and safety of your own home.”

About Batavia Downs/WROTB

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Region Off-Track Betting Corporation is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 17 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western Region OTB has generated over $220 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of those participating municipalities.

Editor's Note: The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875. The 146th "Run for the Roses" can be seen Saturday on NBCSN (NBC's Sports Network) with live coverage from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. Post time for what's touted as "the most exciting 2 minutes in sports" is 6:50 p.m.

May 6, 2019 - 1:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, sports, Batavia Downs, WROTB, Derby Day 2019, kentucky derby.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs Gaming

Representatives from Western Regional Off-Track Betting (WROTB) reported today (May 6) that a record $2,039,088.30 was wagered on the Kentucky Derby through their outlets including BataviaBets.com, OTB Branches and EZ Bet Locations.

In particular the Empire branch in Rochester, saw significant growth, up 27 percent from the previous year. And wagering was also very strong at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel, up 7 percent there.

Batavia Downs hosted three separate parties with a full house of happy, gambling revelers enjoying the Run for the Roses. The Park Place Party served an all-time high 751 dinners; well eclipsing the 605 meals sold last year. Thurman Thomas’ Sports Bar “34 Rush” had their highest single day total for sales.

Down on the gaming floor, $4 million credits were played which was the second highest in their history. The week ending Saturday saw the highest credits played total of all time, with $18.3 million in Credits Played, beating the previous best seven-day period of $17.4 million.

The results of the 145th Kentucky Derby may have been controversial with the subsequent disqualification of Maximum Security, who was first under the wire, but according to Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of WROTB, Derby Day 2019 was unbelievable all the way around.

“The wagering, party and gaming numbers are a continuation and reflection of the solid year Batavia Downs has been experiencing,” Wojtaszek said. “We could not have pulled this off if it wasn’t for our dedicated OTB branch and Batavia Downs staff, who worked tirelessly on Derby Day. We appreciate the solid support from our loyal customer base.”

WROTB is already gearing up for the second jewel of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown to be held on May 18 at Pimlico racetrack.

Among the events scheduled for Preakness is the $15 Trifecta special that will take place in the Park Place Event Center at Batavia Downs from 4 to 7 p.m.

Live harness racing return to Batavia Downs on Wednesday (July 24) for the meet that will run through Saturday (Dec. 14).

Video Sponsor
May 10, 2017 - 2:35pm

Press release:

Representatives from Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation (WROTB) announced Tuesday that wagering at WROTB locations on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby was its highest total ever at $2,031,741, beating 2014’s record handle.

Handle was up over $200,000 over last year’s handle -- a 12-percent increase. Batavia Downs Gaming also posted a record gaming handle of $3.5 million for the day.

“This was an incredible day of wagering," said WROTB President Henry Wojtaszek. “We at WROTB want to thank our patrons for coming out to our branches, EZ bets, Batavia Downs and for using our online service Batavia Bets.com.

"We appreciate their patience on our busiest day. We could not have pulled this off if it wasn’t for our dedicated OTB branch and Batavia Downs staff, who worked tirelessly on Derby Day. We send congratulations to all our winners including the 34 patrons who hit the Trifecta and to the person who hit the $75,000 Superfecta.”

Derby wagers placed just at Batavia Downs Gaming totaled $91,330, an increase of nearly 58 percent over last year. Wagering using BataviaBets.com, WROTB’s online website, on the Derby was $98,352.50, a record. Batavia Bets.com signed up 720 new accounts on Friday and Saturday, also a new record.  Buffalo ranked #4 in the country in terms of Derby viewership.

“It’s exciting to see that interest in the Kentucky Derby is alive and well in Western New York, “ said Todd Haight, general manager of Racing at Batavia Downs Gaming. “We had a record number of attendees at our onsite party.

"We’ll have another party for the Preakness with live mutuels sellers, food, free play and a complementary Preakness wager like we had for the Derby.”

The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, is scheduled for 6:48 p.m. on Saturday, May 20.

About Batavia Downs/WROTB

Owned and operated by 15 Western New York counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo, Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation is a public benefit corporation with headquarters in Batavia, NY. WROTB owns and operates 19 branches, as well as Batavia Downs Gaming, a standard bred racetrack and gaming facility. Since its inception, Western Regional OTB has generated over $215 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of those participating municipalities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other developments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

----------------

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other developments, the board:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other developments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 20, 2016 - 8:27pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in Batavia Town Board, news, WROTB, water project.

The Batavia Town Board on Wednesday night approved payment of additional expenses for work on the Townline Water Project and for engineering services for the Townline and Pratt Road water districts and the West Main Street Road Sewer District.

In unanimous votes, the board:

-- Agreed to pay a $47,680 change order submitted by Sergi Construction of East Aurora, which previously had won a bid for a $2.4 million contract for the construction of approximately 107,000 linear feet of 8-inch and 12-inch water main, valves, hydrants and related equipment along various roads in the towns of Batavia, Oakfield, Elba and Stafford.

The added funds were needed to cover the cost of furnishing and installing new 8-inch waterline with two hydrants and service, and the installation of 2-inch PVC at the Genesee County Fire Training Center on State Street Road.

-- Authorized payment of $16,061 to Visone Construction of Depew, which previously was awarded a $3 million contract for the same Townline Water Project. The increase was needed to cover the cost for new connections along Oak Orchard Road to the Village of Elba, and for an emergency water main break in Elba two months ago.

-- Approved payments to Clark Patterson Lee for additional design and construction inspection services for the Townline Water District ($66,900), the Pratt Road Water District ($9,600), and the West Main Street Road Sewer District ($21,000).

The board also OK'd a couple of resolutions in connection with sanitary sewer service with Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.

One of them was an amendment to a sewer service agreement that calls for WROTB to pay for construction of an extension of a sanitary sewer service line if requested by the Town, based upon requirements of future need or development; and the other was a resolution granting the Town of Batavia an easement from WROTB to maintain the sanitary sewer located on the east side of Batavia Downs Gaming and any future extension up to the south end of Richmond Avenue.

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