Democrat and Chronicle
Batavia Downs, the oldest nighttime harness track in the country, plans to open an expansion of its racino on Friday — even as it recently got shut out of being able to open as a full-scaled casino.
Batavia Downs, which is owned by Western Regional Off-Track Betting, is one of three western New York racinos that will be unable to compete for a state license to open as a casino with table games.
The prohibition comes because Gov. Andrew Cuomo last spring reached a deal with the Seneca Nation of Indians for exclusive gaming rights in the region; the tribe runs three casinos in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area.
Still, Batavia Downs has had success in recent years with its video-lottery facility and is eager for its $28 million expansion, officials said.
“We are very excited to open this first phase of our expansion,” said Michael Kane, president of Batavia Downs. “As a public-benefit corporation, the expansion of the gaming floor and the addition of three new restaurants will allow us to generate more revenue for local municipalities.”
As a public-benefit corporation, profits from Western OTB and Batavia Downs Gaming go back to the 15 counties and two cities, Buffalo and Rochester, in which it operates.
The main gaming floor has been remodeled and moved the ground floor of the track. The track is also increasing the number of machines from 640 to 779.
It also has three new restaurants: the “Homestretch Homestretch Grill;” Fortuna’s; and 34 Rush, a Thurman Thomas’ Sports Bar named after the Buffalo Bills legend.