Batavia Downs, believed to be the nation's oldest nighttime Standardbred track, will not open for racing this summer because of dwindling revenue and an inability to get financing for its racino operation, track officials said.
Permission has been granted for the first time ever in New York for an off-track betting corporation to run a racetrack. After years of battling industry opposition and eventually paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the critics go away, Western Regional Off Track Betting Corp. was given approval by state regulators Feb. 27 to reopen Batavia Downs.
As racetracks continued to insist they can't make money off New York's new video lottery terminal program, Gov.George Pataki released a state budget proposal that for the first time projects revenue for government from the gambling devices.
Video lottery terminals, despite the objection of the New York Racing Association, have taken a key step closer to coming to a Saratoga Springs harness track.
Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., which controls wagering in a huge, 15-county region in upstate New York, will be allowed to run harness races at Batavia Downs, which is located east of Buffalo. It is the first time an OTB corporation, which in New York are quasi-public agencies, will be permitted to operate a racetrack. Gov. George Pataki must sign the legislation.
The first bid by an off-track betting corporation to operate a racetrack in New York has taken a major step forward after a bill sailed through the state Assembly.
Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. paid $2.5 million for shuttered Batavia Downs, but thus far has been unable to win legislative approval to open and operate the upstate New York Standardbred track.
Officials in New York are rushing to get legislation approved to re-open one of the nation's oldest, nighttime harness tracks, Batavia Downs, in time for racing to begin this summer for the first time in three years. Batavia Downs, located outside Buffalo, became the state's first -- and so far only -- racetrack purchased by an off-track betting corporation, which in New York are publicly owned entities. Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. purchased the ailing track in 1998 for $2.5 million, but was rebuked from opening it for racing when other tracks, fearing competition from a government- owned facility, said the state could not budge from New York law that bars OTBs from operating racetracks.
Several high-profile racing bills suffered quick deaths as the New York legislature ended its 2000 session.
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