Tag: OTB

Feb 23

2024

OTB wants to expand gambling in Buffalo

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After an eight-month delay, Buffalo’s new representative on the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors participated in her first meeting Thursday and has already taken on a major project: Changing state law to make it easier for Buffalo residents to bet on horse races. Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, former deputy mayor to Mayor Byron Brown, said she wants to give bars, restaurants and bowling alleys in Buffalo and Western New York the opportunity to install betting terminals, supplied by OTB, as a way to earn more revenue. The terminals, called E-Z Bet, allow gamblers to bet on any horse race[...]

Posted 1 week ago

Feb 6

2024

Brown angling for top job at OTB

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From left: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, OTB President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek, OTB board member James Wilmot. Mayor Byron Brown, who has pursued at least two jobs outside City Hall in the past six months, has his eyes set on yet another: president and CEO of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., sources tell Investigative Post. And those political insiders say the job’s current occupant, Henry Wojtaszek, is looking for an exit strategy, too.  It’s little wonder that Brown would be interested in the job. Wojtaszek has one of the best-compensated public service posts in the state. The OTB president[...]

Posted 4 weeks ago

Jan 24

2024

Lawsuit accuses OTB of sexual harassment, wage theft

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The Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. was sued Wednesday on claims two executives sexually harassed a female employee and managers at Batavia Downs stole tips from her and other bartenders. Among the allegations lodged against Chief Operating Officer Scott Kiedrowski and Director of Security Daniel Wood: a pattern of sexual harassment that extended over several years. Kiedrowski invited female employees to attend Bills and Sabres games at OTB’s suites, which one plaintiff contends was an effort to seduce her.   The lawsuit contends the alleged wage theft was brought to the attention of OTB management but, after correcting the problem, President[...]

Posted 1 month ago

Jan 18

2024

Wojtaszek, OTB leadership get 2nd raise in a year

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Dennis Bassett, chair of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors, left, and President and CEO Henry Wojtaszek. Photo by Garrett Looker. The Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. gave its president and CEO Henry Wojtaszek a $15,000 raise Thursday, cementing him among the highest paid public employees in New York.   Wojtaszek, 61, now earns an annual paycheck of $287,000. That’s more than New York City Mayor Eric Adams ($258,000); Gov. Kathy Hochul ($250,000); Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer ($193,400); Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown ($178,500); U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins ($174,000); and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz ($140,000).  Wojtaszek is[...]

Posted 1 month ago

Jan 16

2024

Double standard involving OTB board

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For more than a decade, the state Gaming Commission allowed political party leaders — all Republicans or Conservatives — to serve on the board of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. in violation of state law, Investigative Post has found. Then came Jennifer Hibit.  Following major reforms by state lawmakers, County Executive Mark Poloncarz last June appointed the Democratic insider to the OTB board. But late last year, the Gaming Commission gave Hibit a choice: Resign from her leadership position in the Erie County Democratic Committee or leave the OTB board. She left OTB.  Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, a Democrat appointed by Buffalo[...]

Posted 2 months ago

Jan 11

2024

No follow up to OTB ticket scandal

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In the fall of 2021, state auditors criticized representatives of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. for improperly helping themselves to an estimated $121,000 in tickets for professional sports games, concerts and other shows, as well as thousands of dollars in food and drinks they consumed while taking in the action.   More than two years later, a spokesperson for state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli concedes their office doesn’t know whether OTB officials have taken any action on one of the audit’s main recommendations: identify individuals who improperly received tickets and seek reimbursement.  “We were not informed if WROTB sought and received reimbursements,”[...]

Posted 2 months ago

Dec 4

2023

Poloncarz swaps one potential OTB critic for another

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A recently-appointed director of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.— expected to be a watchdog over the embattled gambling agency — has resigned.  State law prohibits public and political party officials from holding a license necessary to serve on the governing board of off-track betting corporations. That’s the law that prompted Jennifer Hibit — secretary of the Erie County Democratic Committee — to resign Monday from her position as Erie County’s representative on the board of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., based in Batavia.  It’s unclear if the law is being applied uniformly.  Former OTB Board Chairman Richard Bianchi,[...]

Posted 3 months ago

Oct 26

2023

OTB lurches toward ‘new era’

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The Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. is entering a “new era,” its new board chair has claimed, a shift that could see the public gambling agency increase transparency and institute reforms. The OTB board of directors meeting Thursday marked the first time the group had met since state lawmakers in May fired the old board, ordered the 17 counties and cities that own the agency to appoint a new one, and instituted weighted voting, throwing control to densely populated, Democratically-controlled Erie and Monroe counties, along with Buffalo and Rochester. Those reforms came after more than four years of lawsuits, investigations[...]

Posted 4 months ago
Investigative Post

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