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Batavia Downs To Ride Again

28 December 2001

BATAVIA, New York –Dec. 28, 2001—As reported by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle :"Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. yesterday approved spending $6 million to renovate the historic Batavia Downs Race Track in hopes of reopening it in July.

"The Western OTB board of directors, however, delayed voting to spend an additional $5.6 million to renovate the downstairs section of the grandstand and install video lottery terminals, a type of slot machine that the state may allow at racetracks beginning in November 2002.

"…OTB officials say the reopening of Batavia Downs will spur tourism, add about 200 jobs and bolster a sagging horseracing industry in western New York.

"…Batavia Downs opened in 1940 and was the oldest nighttime track in North America before closing in June 1998. Western OTB bought it from near bankruptcy three years ago for $2.5 million and already has invested about $600,000 in renovations.

"…The track plans a 105-night season beginning July 29.

"…After its first three years of operation, video lottery terminals could bring in about $6 million annually in revenue, OTB officials estimate.

"…Earlier this year, the state Legislature gave OTB approval to operate Batavia Downs. Western OTB officials hoped live racing would improve simulcast racing business at its 44 branches, though they didn't think the track itself would be highly profitable.

"But when the state suddenly approved video lottery terminals at racetracks as a way to increase state coffers following the Sept. 11 attacks, OTB officials saw Batavia Downs in a different financial light…"

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