Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) voted in support of legislation to create a new New York Racing Association (NYRA) contract with the state for the next 25 years. Although previous versions of the bill were not supported by either Hawley or Batavia Downs, 11th hour changes made the bill more favorable for Batavia Downs and the legislation earned the approval of both the Downs and the Assemblyman.
“The new agreement is a good thing for Batavia Downs, as well as the horsemen and breeders and the people of Western New York. Not only is the Downs an appreciated source of entertainment and tourism in our area, but the thoroughbred industry contributes greatly to our economy and I am very pleased that the State and NYRA were able to reach an agreement that fosters a better future for Batavia Downs,” stated Hawley who, as member of the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, was integral in the negotiations that led to the final agreement.
Specifically, the State has awarded NYRA a 25-year contract to continue as the state’s racing franchise. The plan puts in place a review process, a statewide franchise advisory board, and a community advisory board for each track, including Batavia Downs, to ensure that NYRA is effectively operating and managing each of the state’s racing and gaming facilities. The creation of the community advisory boards also allows the public to have a greater input in the future of facilities in their community.
The State-NYRA agreement also provides $60 million in additional revenue shares for the state’s smaller facilities. For Batavia Downs, these shares come in the form of increased Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) vendor fees, from 32 percent to 36 percent, as well as the creation of a 1 percent share of VLT profits for horsemen and breeders. This means Batavia Downs, which currently operates 592 VLT machines, will bring in an additional $1 million in revenue. The Downs will also receive another $1.5 million from the state for increased marketing and capital funds.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation, Martin C. Basinait, said, “These positives will also carry over to participating municipalities. It will provide increased revenue from operation to share with those municipalities, increase the host fee revenue to Genesee County and the Town and City of Batavia. Also, the more successful Batavia Downs becomes and the more amenities we add, the more jobs we will ultimately make available to the community. The economic multiplier is tremendous. I want to thank Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Senator Mary Lou Rath.”
Batavia Downs is home to Western New York’s live harness racing, video gaming, and off-track betting, making the Downs one of Genesee County’s largest employers. The lighted harness track is the oldest still used today in America and hosts live racing from July to December annually.