Batavia News

Leaders of Batavia Downs Casino expect to start seeking construction bids for an expansion and renovation of the gaming floor in October, with the project awarded to contractors in December.

The project, which is expected to cost about $25 million, will turn most of the first floor of the race track into a video gaming center with 779 gaming machines, up from the 640 that are currently on the second floor. The second floor will be turned into offices, storage and a simulcast center.

The first floor project will include a Thurman Thomas sports bar, a new restaurant, a full-service Tim Hortons, and other improvements, including a revamped façade and two-story front atrium.

Business has been booming at the track in recent months. Since the floor was expanded in February from 607 to 640 video gaming machines, the “win per terminal” each day has exceeded $200. This fiscal year, which started April 1 for the state, Batavia Downs has averaged $203 per terminal, up from $185 last year, and that’s with 33 more gaming machines.

In August, the 640 gaming machines have each averaged $215 in daily profits, up from $185 last August when there were 607 “video slots.” The higher profits with more gaming machines translates into about $25,000 more each day in net revenue for Batavia Downs for a $137,000 daily average.

Those profits are shared by New York State and Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., with a portion also directed to horsemen in purses and a breeding fund.

The community can expect to see construction at the Downs in the coming months, while WROTB, the facility’s owner, prepares for the bigger project. The WROTB board of directors on Thursday approved a $99,600 bid from Autumn Contracting LLC in Alden to construct a new 12,000-square-foot salt storage building.

The current salt shed will be removed from the maintenance building to help make space for a new 100-foot by 100-foot maintenance and storage building. The facility will go next to one about the same size on the southeast side of the track in the city of Batavia.

That new building, approved at a cost of $621,080, will free up room in the first floor of Batavia Downs.

A year ago WROTB started offering a valet and shuttle service for the video gaming center. The public has responded to the service, prompting the WROTB board to renew a contract with Mass Park Inc. The company will be paid $16 an hour for valet and $21 an hour for a bus driver for the shuttle.

The company will have those personnel on duty in Batavia about 50 hours a week. The shuttle runs a loop to local hotels, while the valet works from noon to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

About 50 to 100 people use the valet service each day it is available, said Mark Wolf, gaming director for Batavia.