BATAVIA — The Genesee County Legislature voted Wednesday to support Batavia Downs and eight other casinos in their quest for enhanced casino gambling, which would comprise of table games to the video lottery terminals now in use.
A resolution states that passage of a constitutional modification to allow expanded gambling will create $94 million in construction and hundreds of jobs at the Batavia Downs Casino. Batavia installed “slots” in 2005.
Since 1998, Batavia Downs has been owned by Western Regional Off-Track Betting, a public benefit corporation with sites in 15 counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester. Since it was formed in 1973, the corporation has generated more than $209 million, which is shared by the state, the tracks and OTB municipal members. From its headquarters in Batavia, the corporation operates about 30 betting parlors in its area, and it restored control racing at the Downs in 2002.
Expanded gambling at the Batavia track is sure to ignite opposition from the Seneca Nation of Indians, which operates three casinos in Western New York and claims its gambling compact with the state gives the nation elite rights to gambling in the region. The Senecas argue that gambling operations at Batavia Downs and Fairgrounds Gaming in Hamburg violate that exclusivity.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has expressed support for legalized casino gambling in the state, a process that would take at least two years to modify the State Constitution with consent by two successive State Legislatures and then statewide voter approval.
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