OTB closing Albion branch on Feb. 27

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 February 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – The Off-Track Betting site in Albion will close later this month after revenue from the branch plummeted in recent years. OTB will put the building up for sale.

ALBION – The Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. will close its OTB parlor at 317 West Ave. on Feb. 27.

The decision follows a big drop in revenue at the site. The amount of bets has declined from $1.3 million in 2010 to $517,000 last year. It’s down another 24 percent this year, said Sean Schiano, director of branch operations for WROTB.

WROTB has closed many betting parlors in recent years. There are currently 27 in operation, down from 72 in 15 Western New York counties about 30 years ago.

The OTB branch in Albion is in a commercial district in a busy part of Albion on Route 31.

WROTB runs a lean operation in Albion with a full-time branch supervisor and a cleaner who works about 15 hours a week. The site still has been operating in the red.

“The bottom line is it takes away revenue we send to Orleans County,” Schiano said.

WROTB is owned by 15 counties plus the cities of Rochester and Buffalo. They share in profits from the overall operation. The video gaming center at Batavia Downs has proven a money-maker for WROTB, more than offsetting losses at OTB branches.

The success at Batavia Downs allowed WROTB to boost its revenue to Orleans County from $39,000 in 2014 to $52,000 last year.

However, WROTB doesn’t want to keep betting parlors that operate at a loss. The organization has partnered with restaurants and bowling alleys to have EZ-Bets, where people can bet on horses without WROTB staff.

WROTB would like to have EZ Bets in Orleans County, perhaps at more than one location.

The site at 317 West Ave. will be put up for sale. It is located across from the Pawlak’s Save-A-Lot plaza. The OTB is off the tax rolls. Schiano said once it is sold the community will get the benefit of the property generating taxes.