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Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 7:36 am

Batavia Downs announces annual scholarship race

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, education, harness racing, schools, sports

Press release:

Batavia Downs Casino will continue to enhance education, both of the sport of harness racing as well as classroom academics, by continuing its scholarship program for its third consecutive year.

The $7,500 one mile Dash for the Cash will be held on Saturday night, Sept. 15.

Five area high school seniors from the graduating class of 2013 will participate. The schools can use any criteria they wish to pick their students. This year’s participating high schools are Batavia, Notre Dame of Batavia, Elba, Pembroke and Alexander.

Kaley Falkowski of Batavia High School with professional Jim Mulcahy alongside won the inaugural event. Last year Elizabeth Shuknecht representing Elba High School with professional Jim Graham took top honors.

Beginning in August, the five participating students will attend at least five training sessions at the track with their professional to learn the safety and skills needed to drive a racehorse. Then between the fourth and fifth live harness races on Sept. 15, they will line up behind the starting gate and compete for scholarships checks of $3,000, $2,000, $1,200, $800 and $500.

“The enthusiasm in the crowd leading up to the race is amazing and it brings an entirely different demographic to the racetrack,” said Todd Haight, general manager of live racing. “These kids train very hard and definitely come away with a better understanding of our sport.”

Again the scholarship event is co-sponsored by the horsemen, breeders and owners of Western New York through the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State, the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association, Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs Casino.

Batavia Downs Casino, America's oldest lighted harness track, opens for its 66th racing season on Monday, July 23, for 72 racing dates with a new post time of 6:25 p.m. Racing will be conducted on a Sunday afternoon, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night basis in August. For more information, visit www.bataviadowns.com.

Friday, March 30, 2012 at 11:19 am

World's richest race on Saturday, wagers accepted at Batavia Downs

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, horse racing, sports

Press Release:

The $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup, the World’s richest horse race and the $1 Million Florida Derby, a major Kentucky Derby prep, headline a big day of racing at Western OTB and Batavia Downs Casino this Saturday.

OTB will offering wagering on the last five races from Meydan Racecourse located in the United Arab Emirates, the home of the Dubai World Cup. Post time for the World Cup is 1:40 p.m. All OTB branches will be open by 11:15 p.m.

Advance wagering begins on Friday.

History will be made as jockey Chantel Sutherland, a sometime reality star and model, will become the first female rider in the World Cup while Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta attempts to become the first filly to win the race.

Later in the afternoon, Union Rags the current favorite to win this year’s Run for the Roses makes his final prep before the Kentucky Derby in the $1,000,000 Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park. Union Rags has won four of his five lifetime races with the 3-year-olds lone defeat coming in the 2011 Breeders Cup Juvenile.
Post time for time for the Florida Derby is 5:40p.m.

Past performances for the Dubai races and the Florida Derby will be free at all branches and EZ-Bets.  Westernotb.com lists all branches and EZ-Bet locations.

Western Regional Off-Track Betting, the owner of Batavia Downs is a public benefit corporation serving 15 counties and two municipalities.  In addition to being America’s Oldest Lighted Harness Track, the facility at 8315 Park Road is home to over 640 of the most popular slots and Grandstands Bar & Grille.  Batavia Downs’ 66th harness season begins July 23.

Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Photos: Train show at Batavia Down

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs

If your thing is trains, Batavia Downs was the place to be Sunday.

Friday, March 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Legislative deal may cut Batavia Downs out of New York's casino action

post by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, Gambling, Seneca Nation

It looks like Batavia Downs is a long shot to expand into a full-blown Vegas-style casino with table games and expanding gambling options.

The NYS Legislature took a big step yesterday toward opening up so-called racinos to more casino games, but capped the number of race tracks that can expand at seven.

Western Regional OTB board member Dick Siebert told WBTA that he's very concerned that Batavia Downs is being excluded from the expansion.

“Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs are the closest raceways to the Senecas' casinos (in Niagara Falls and Allegany), and they’re the ones putting the heat on the state,” Siebert points out. “So I’ve got a strange but very sound feeling that we’re the two being targeted.”

The seven target locations have not been disclosed.

The Senecas believe they have an exclusive lock on gambling in New York and the legislature may have caved to pressure from the Senecas by excluding Buffalo and Batavia from the expansion.

“They’re behind it,” Siebert said. “They’ve got money, and they’re throwing it around. They don’t want the competition. But not having Batavia Downs be a full casino hurts Western New York a lot more than what might happen to the Senecas.

“I’ll probably get myself in trouble to say it – but it’s the truth,” Siebert added.

Michael Kane, CEO of the Western Regional OTB remains hopeful, however.

“I don’t think it takes Batavia Downs out of the mix at all,” Kane says. “I think the number was just negotiated between the governor and the two houses.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Batavia Downs releases report on economic benefit to Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business

Press release:

Batavia Downs Casino Raceway added over $18 million to the Genesee County economy and generated over $24.5 million annually in revenues for the region and the state, according to a new economic impact analysis conducted by an independent firm.

This analysis also estimates that nearly 460 local, full- and part-time jobs are supported by Batavia Downs Casino. The New York Gaming Association (NYGA) released part one of the two-part report today to outline the positive economic impact gaming has had on the local economy.

A second report, which will be released next week, will show projections for future regional job growth and revenues that will be generated if enhanced gaming is authorized in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature will consider passing a constitutional amendment to authorize enhanced gaming.

“As a facility we are excited at the possibility of having enhanced gaming at Batavia Downs Casino,” said Mike Kane, president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting, which owns Batavia Downs Casino. “Not only does it mean more jobs for our area, but it means more monies can be generated for the New York State Lottery and for the 15 counties and two cities that our public benefit corporation serves.”

According to estimates from the analysis, in 2011 Batavia Downs Casino provided 457 local full- and part-time jobs, with 313 of those jobs representing direct employment by the casino. Batavia Downs supported 90 jobs for racing and breeding. Wages and salaries for employees totaled more than $5 million.

Additional findings from the report show that in 2011, Batavia Downs Casino:

• Accounted for over $18 million in economic output for the region;
• Reinvested nearly $3 million into the local economy with the purchase of goods and services (including construction) from businesses in Genesee County;
• Accounted directly and indirectly for over $3 million in revenues for Genesee County municipalities, and;
• Generated nearly $20.5 million in state revenues, of which $16 million went toward education in New York State, which is the equivalent of paying the salaries of more than 231 elementary and secondary schoolteachers throughout New York State.

Since 2005, Batavia Downs Casino provided $3.65 million in aid to municipalities and contributed $94.5 million to New York State education and has never missed a payment.

The nine racetrack casinos comprising the New York Gaming Association include:

• Batavia Downs Casino
• Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway
• Empire Resorts at Monticello Casino & Raceway
• Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack
• Hamburg Casino at the Fairgrounds
• Resorts World Casino New York at Aqueduct Racetrack
• Saratoga Casino & Raceway
• Tioga Downs Casino
• Vernon Downs Casino & Hotel

The New York Gaming Association members have contributed $1.96 billion to the state in 2011. Over $830.5 million has gone to fund education in New York State which is the equivalent of paying the salaries of more than 11,900 elementary and secondary schoolteachers throughout New York State. The nine Racetrack Casinos employ nearly 5,500 New Yorkers directly and have created a total of 17,400 jobs both directly and indirectly across the state.

The economic impact analysis study was conducted by Appleseed, Inc., a New York City firm that specializes in providing economic and social research analysis.

Download: Appleseed report (PDF)

Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 9:51 am

Batavia Downs lining up support to offer table games in full-service casino

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business

Leaders of Western Regional Off-track Betting Corp. are lining up support to turn Batavia Downs into a full-service casino and they took their case to the Genesee County Legislature on Wednesday.

In a meeting with the Ways and Means Committee, three representatives of Batavia Downs told the committee that getting Genesee County's support for the plan is crucial to lining up support from the other 15 counties that co-own Western Regional OTB.

"You're the key," said Mike Nolan, VP of administration for Western Regional OTB and Batavia Downs. "You're the host county and the place where we live. You gain the most to benefit from what happens at Batavia Downs. We're hoping you can be the leader so we can go to the other municipalities and say we have your support."

The committee unanimously approved a resolution supporting Batavia Downs becoming one of the nine racing facilities in New York to offer table games along with slot machines.

Legislator Mary Pat Hancock said she isn't fully supportive of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's push to legalize casino gambling across the board in New York, but she could support this resolution because it limits gaming to just the existing racing and video-terminal facilities (often called "racinos").

The earliest Batavia Downs could offer table games -- such as blackjack and poker -- would be January 2014.

For that to happen, the current State Legislature and the next one seated must approve a constitutional amendment to legalize casinos, and then the amendment would be voted on in a statewide referendum.

During the process, state lawmakers would need to also pass enabling legislation that would government how the casinos are run.

If all of that could happen by November 2013, then Batavia Downs could start offering new games and begin construction expanding the existing facilities -- creating 1,000 construction jobs and leading to more than 400 new full-time jobs at the casino.

Nolan (top photo), who met with the committee along with Mike Kane, president and CEO, and OTB Board Member Richard Siebert, said there is still opposition from Senecas, but that is an issue for the governor's office to deal with. In the meantime, Batavia Downs needs to line up its own support and make its own plans in the hope that casino gambling is approved in New York.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Batavia Downs releases statement supporting Cuomo's call for more gaming at casinos

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs

Press release:

We are pleased and applaud the governor’s support for a constitutional amendment concerning casino gaming during his State of the State address. This will have a significant positive economic affect on Western New York, specifically the 15 counties and two cities, which include Buffalo and Rochester that own Batavia Downs Casino.

With New York facing ongoing fiscal challenges as the economy continues to sputter, now is the time to permit enhanced gaming at the state’s racetrack casinos so that we can reclaim the billions of dollars in revenue – along with spending on travel, lodging, meals and other related economic activity — that flow out of our state every year.

Many thousands of New Yorkers already visit the state’s racetrack casinos, including Batavia Downs Casino. The tracks, which are licensed by the state, have over the past decade created thousands of jobs and provided billions of dollars to the state and local governments for education, agriculture and horse breeding.

Since 2005, Batavia Downs Casino and Western Regional Off-Track Betting have given more than $107 million to New York State Education through the lottery. More than $71 million has been distributed to Western Regional's member counties and cities, helping lower property taxes and contribute to community improvements.

Batavia Downs Casino and Racetrack employs more than 250 people year round. That number increases to more than 300 when racing is in session from July through December.

But the racetrack casinos lack a vital element to keep gaming enthusiasts in our state: live table games. As a result, many are choosing to travel to venues in other jurisdictions, where they leave behind an estimated $3-5 billion and spend hundreds of millions more on hotels, restaurants, entertainment, shopping and travel expenses.

The racetrack casinos have united to form the New York Gaming Association, which will work in partnership with the governor and the legislature on the multi-year process to approve the state constitutional amendment to permit live table games at our facilities.

By enhancing our existing venues with table games, we will attract clientele that now goes out of state and consequently create thousands of additional jobs and generate more revenues to provide even greater support for education, agriculture and horseracing and breeding.

Enhancing existing racetrack casinos to include table games is a good deal for New York, and not simply because of the increased revenues. Association members have already proven to be outstanding and dependable partners with the state, operating with oversight by both the State Division of Lottery and the Racing and Wagering Board. In fact, some have suggested that ours is one of the most successful public-private partnerships in the state, if not the entire country.

There is another reason why enhancing the racetrack casinos makes so much sense for New York: We are not asking for any taxpayer dollars at all. On the contrary, association members, including Batavia Downs Casino are prepared to invest hundreds of millions to upgrade our venues.

Batavia Downs Casino already had an expansion plan in place that will look to break ground this year. By the time the amendment is passed, the facility will be ready to start on an $85-95 million project beginning in 2014. This will include a convention center and expanded gaming, including table games. That means more visitors to our area, helping retail, hotels and restaurant owners along the way. It also means increased revenue to the state, and most importantly, new jobs. The impact of all these would be seen rapidly.

At a time when budgets are tight and taxpayers are rightfully skeptical about untested ideas that promise economic benefits, allowing the enhancement of existing, successful racetrack casinos to include table games is a good bet for all New Yorkers.

Batavia Downs in owned and operated by Western Regional Off-Track Betting, a public benefit corporation. Municipalities that own Batavia Downs Casino include: City of Buffalo, Cattaraugus County, Cayuga County, Chautauqua County, Erie County, Genesee County, Livingston County, Monroe County, Niagara County, Orleans County, Oswego County, City of Rochester, Schuyler County, Seneca County, Steuben County, Wayne County, and Wyoming County.

The track is also home to Batavia Downs Casino, featuring more than 600 video slot machines. Batavia Downs Casino is located less than one mile from Thruway Exit 48 and is open daily from 9 to 4 a.m.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 11:06 am

Tim Horton's opens inside Batavia Downs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, business, sports

Press release:

Batavia Downs Casino is pleased to announce that following a recent approval, a new Tim Horton's will open inside Batavia Downs Casino on Wednesday, Dec. 21, sometime in the afternoon.

“Tim Horton's has proven itself to be an industry leader and partnering ourselves with that brand will strengthen our own,” said Mike Kane, CEO and president of Batavia Downs Casino.

The Tim Horton's will occupy the site formerly knows as “Crumbs” and will serve Tim Horton's brand drinks as well as doughnuts. Other lunch items that “Crumbs” served will also be available. Tim Horton's brand coffee will be served for free to persons playing on the gaming floor.

Batavia Downs in owned and operated by Western Regional Off-Track Betting, a public benefit corporation. The track is also home to Batavia Downs Casino, featuring more than 600 video slot machines. Batavia Downs Casino is located less than one mile from Thruway Exit 48 and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. Admission and parking are always free.

Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Photos: Batavia Downs signs

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, Park Road, photos

For some time I've been intrigued by the idea of taking a picture of the Batavia Downs sign. Last week, while in the parking lot of Office Max, I spotted an angle that looked promising. Driving home tonight, I thought the light conditions might be right to give it a try.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Thurman Thomas becomes Batavia Downs Casino’s new ambassador

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Downs, sports

Press release:

Batavia, NY --- Batavia Downs Casino is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with Thurman Thomas to bring the former running back and pro football hall of famer on board as Batavia Downs Casino’s new ambassador.

"I am very excited to be associated with Batavia Downs Casino, and look forward to my role as ambassador," Thurman said. "My wife’s family had a long and wonderful relationship with Batavia Downs Raceway and we are thrilled to be part of that again."

As the ambassador, Thomas will serve as the face of Batavia Downs Casino, promoting the company’s brand throughout communities across Upstate New York. Thomas will be used in conjunction with Batavia Downs Casino’s advertising campaigns and the anticipated future development of a Thurman Thomas Signature Sports Bar.

“Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas has provided great entertainment to sports fans in Western New York and he continues to give back to the community,” said Ryan Hasenauer, director of marketing for Batavia Downs Casino.

“A partnership seemed natural considering that Batavia Downs Casino and its parent company, Western Regional OTB, have been providing entertainment and giving millions back to the area communities for decades. Thurman Thomas is one of the greatest running backs in Buffalo history and is the perfect athlete to help promote Batavia Downs Casino’s new expansion.”

Batavia Downs in owned and operated by Western Regional Off-Track Betting, a public benefit corporation. The track is also home to Batavia Downs Casino, featuring more than 600 video slot machines. Batavia Downs Casino is located less than one mile from Thruway Exit 48 and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. Admission and parking are always free.

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