Buffalo News News Staff Reporters

The Batavia Downs Casino will soon begin a $27 million renovation and expansion that could lead to a 50 percent increase in gaming revenue.

Major components include an increase of 200 video lottery terminals and the relocation of the gaming area from the second to the first floor.

A sports bar named for Buffalo Bills great Thurman Thomas and an expanded Tim Hortons also are planned. The huge decades-old Batavia Downs sign on the roof will be replaced with an LED sign.

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. bought the harness race track in 1998 for $2.48 million and spent millions refurbishing the facility built in 1957 and enlarged in 1966.

VLTs—electronic bells-and-whistles slots that use script instead of cash— were installed in 2005. Those machines now net nearly $40 million annually and could increase to $65 million with the expansion, regional OTB officials said.