Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel overview
Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel was the first and only lit harness racetrack in the United States when it opened in Batavia, New York in 1940. It has since grown into one of Western New York’s premier Racinos. In fact, millions of dollars have been invested into the expansion of casino-style gaming and a luxury hotel on site.
On September 20, 1940, Batavia Downs began offering pari-mutuel harness racing. Crowds flocked to the site for decades. Batavia Downs enjoyed a long and storied harness racing history with some of the biggest purses in the United States awarded.
A 1962 fire forced major renovations. In 1964 the grandstand was enclosed in glass. New York State legalized off-track betting in 1972 and a year later, Western OTB was founded. The company bought the track for $2.48 million in 1998, However, it was unable to get a license to run the facility until 2001. That same year, the New York State Legislature passed a bill to allow racetracks to install Video Lottery Terminals.
From racetrack to racino
Batavia Downs reopened in 2002 after a $10 million renovation. Three years later, on May 18, 2005, the facility added more than 600 VLTs. It was re-branded as Batavia Downs Gaming.
Batavia Downs Gaming underwent another $25 million expansion in 2013. Even more VLTs were added. A $7.5 million hotel was opened up in November 2016. This allowed Batavia Downs to re-brand itself again as Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel. It begin calling itself the area’s premier entertainment destination. There is now gaming, shopping, dining, live racing and accommodations all available on site.
Officials have also announced an additional $5 million expansion of the casino entrance, gaming floor and restaurant seating will take place.
Batavia is in Western New York. Batavia Downs is Genesee County between Buffalo and Rochester just off of the New York State Thruway.
Gaming space expanded
Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel now boasts more than 60,000 square feet of gaming space. In addition to live and simulcast horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering, there are more than 800 VLTs on the property.
Some of the more popular VLTs at Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel include:
- 50 Lions
- 5 Treasures
- All About Money Hot Shot
- American Original
- Blazing 7’s Hot Shot
- Copper Cash
- Dangerous Beauty 2 AVP-Progressive
- Double Diamond Free Spin
- GK MULTI POKER
- Michael Jackson Wanna Be Startin Somethin
- Multi Game Poker 6
- Quick Hit Cash Spin
- Quick Hit Platinum Stars and Bars
- Triple Chance Poker AVP
Batavia downs isn’t the largest Racino in the state, but recent renovations and plans for more have positioned the property as more of a destination resort than just a harness racing facility with VLTs. The minimum age for horse wagering and VLTs is 18 years or older in accordance with New York State law.
Online casino readiness
Plans to legalize and regulate online casino gaming are not currently being considered by New York lawmakers. But if they ever are, Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel appears ready to get on board.
The horse racing industry has always been at the forefront of the iGaming industry. Betting on horses remains the only legal online wagering allowed in New York State as of the first quarter of 2018. Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel recently partnered with Saratoga Casino-Hotel and eBet Technologies to create Batavia Bets, allowing internet users to bet, watch races, and check results in real time online.
The interactive wagering platform allowing secure online horse wagering is seen as a way to strengthen the horse racing industry.
Since Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel is already taking bets online, should New York legislators become interested in legalized and regulated online casino games, it appears to already have the infrastructure in place to take advantage. In fact, as long as it’s positioned as something that would further strengthen the horse racing industry, Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel are very likely to become early iGaming adopters.
Steps away from online poker
The first step for iGaming in New York State appears to be the introduction of online poker. In 2017, two identical bills aimed at legalizing and regulating online poker were introduced into the Senate and Assembly. After the bills passed the Senate, but failed to get through the Assembly, the bills carried over to 2018. The State Assembly’s Chairman of the Committee on Racing and Wagering, Westchester Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, has said there is very little standing in the way and New York’s licensed casino and Racino properties are all behind it.
This would likely include the Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel, considering they’re already taking bets on horse races online. Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel does not house a Poker Room. The organization appears to have very little experience with the online poker industry. However, it does operate an interactive wagering platform online and has shown an interest in any revenue streams that can help bolster its horse racing interests.
Track, racino, resort
From humble beginnings as the first harness racing track in the US to host races at night, Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel has morphed into a full-service Racino and resort.
In addition to 60,000 square feet of gaming space, more than 800 VLTs, and the grandstand and half-mile harness track, in 2016, Batavia Downs Gaming opened up a hotel with the following amenities:
- 84 guestrooms, some overlooking the track
- Luxurious bed sets, feather down pillows and high count bed sheets
- Green Natura Bath amenities
- Complimentary hot breakfast
- $10 free play per guest for each night stay
- Wireless High Speed Internet access
- Full-service business and meeting facility
- Banquet facilities for up to 500 people
Dining options are plentiful with four restaurants on the gaming floor of the Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel, including:
- Fortune’s Italian Restaurant
- 34 Rush sports bar, named for the Buffalo Bills’ Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas
- Clubhouse and Rail Bar
- Homestretch Grill
Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel offers patrons free membership in its Player’s Club rewards program where players can take advantage of daily promotions and weekend cash drawings.
Members can also earn points for game play redeemable for:
- food purchases
- giveaway entries