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Batavia Downs Could Push For HHR Legalization In New York

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on August 29, 2023
bobby geiger stands next to historical horse racing terminal at kentucky downs

Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp (WROTB) officials want to add a historical horse racing (HHR) component to their gaming assortment. Introducing new gaming machines at their Batavia Downs location would allow visitors to place bets on horse races that have already taken place.

During the public benefit company’s board of directors meeting last week, Henry Wojtaszek, president and CEO of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., said:

“It’s our No. 2 (priority) behind getting involved in iGaming,” The Batavian reported.

HHR machines are still not yet legal in New York state, but Batavia Downs could push to pass legislation.

HHR gaming gaining more popularity, could be considered in New York

Historical horse racing has been around for several years and refers to gaming that allows players to bet on replays of past horse races. The activity also allows players to bet on slot-like historical racing terminals (HRTs), resembling traditional slot machines in terms of appearance and gameplay.

According to The Batavian, Wojtaszek also said HHR has been “put in place to help off-track betting locations,” and statistics show that it’s becoming a “multi-billion industry.”

While attending a recent gaming conference in Saratoga Springs, Wojtaszek said the HHR concept came as a possible revenue generator for off-track betting. He stated historical horse racing machines have proven successful at off-track betting locations in other states.

Wojtaszek emphasized the earliest HHR legislation could be considered by members of the New York State Legislature would be in 2024. He also said WROTB plans to include a request for their approved use as part of its Albany legislative agenda next year.

Historical horse racing available in six US states

After Gov. Laura Kelly signed the law legalizing Kansas sports betting in May 2022, it paved the way for regulated historical horse racing in the state. Since then, the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission has received multiple applications for HHR license to offer the activity:

  • Boyd Gaming proposed building a new gaming facility focusing on HHR in Park City at Diamond Jo Park City Casino
  • Flint Hills Entertainment submitted a proposal to use the license in Wichita’s Towne West Square
  • Phil Ruffin applied for the license, with a bid on the Wichita Greyhound Park

Apart from Kansas, historical horse betting is also allowed in Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wyoming.

Horse racing is probably the most popular form of gambling in Kentucky. The parent company of the state’s legendary racetrack, Churchill Downs Incorporated, recently revealed plans to build a new historical racing machine (HRM) entertainment venue as an extension of its Ellis Park racetrack.

Photo by AP Photo/Ed Reinke
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for PlayCanada.com. Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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