Gaming Commission Gives Batavia Downs Green Light on Alleged Ticket Giveaways, Finds No Cause for Concern

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By: Tony Farina

Claims earlier this year by former State Sen. George Maziarz of irregularities in promotional activities involving ticket giveaways at WROTB/Batavia Downs have not resulted in any action from the State Gaming Commission, which in fact has approved the ticket giveaway programs, known as “Suitestakes,” for the 2019 year.

“Recently, there has been speculation about the propriety of our promotional activities that benefit our customers and whether tickets for sporting events and concerts have been used properly,” said Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of WROTB/Batavia Downs.  “After those reports, we invited the Gaming Commission to examine our records and interview WROTB officials regarding these allegations.  Two gaming inspectors accepted our invitation and we complied expeditiously.  Following this review, the inspectors advised WROTB that they were pleased with our cooperation and fully satisfied that the records they reviewed and interviews they conducted did not raise any issue of concern for the Gaming Commission.” 

In effect, despite the attacks by Maziarz against WROTB and his former top assistant, Wojtaszek, it would seem the State Gaming Commission has found no merit to those allegations and has given the ticket promotion a clean bill of health to move forward. 

Batavia Downs management announced in a news release on Monday their commitment to expand their ticket giveaway programs in the wake of the favorable review by the State Gaming Commission and a vote is expected by the board this month.

As part of that expansion, Batavia Downs plans to enter into a three-year agreement with Pegula Sports Entertainment for a suite at New Era Field for events as part of the ticket promotion program.

According to the news release, the “Suitestakes” promotion has expanded since it began in 2014 as part of the marketing plan with the purchase and use of all tickets approved by the Gaming Commission.  It was honored, according to Batavia Downs officials, for its success in generating revenue and enhancing patrons’ relationship with Batavia Downs.

“Our Suitestakes program has and continues to help us achieve record results,” said Ryan Hasenauer, director of marketing for WROTB/Batavia Downs.  

Hasenauer said in the news release “we will be expanding the number of times and methods with which we distribute tickets to ensure future success.”

Revenues generated are distributed to the shareholders of WROTB including 15 counties and the cities of Rochester and Buffalo.  WROTB owns and operates 19 branches as well as Batavia Downs Gaming and the standardbred racetrack.  Since its inception, according to officials, Western Regional OTB has generated over $231 million in operating and surcharge revenues to the taxpayers of the participating municipalities. 


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