OTB returns to Albion as EZ-Bet
ALBION – A long-time Off-Track Betting parlor closed on Feb. 27 after about four decades in Albion.
The Albion area still had many dedicated horse-racing fans, but not enough to justify the expense of keeping a betting parlor in the small town, Western Regional Off-Track Betting officials said at the time.
However, OTB has partnered with a local business to bring back a betting site. It’s not an official OTB parlor, but the new EZ-Bet at Save-On Beverage Center gives racing fans a place to bet by using a self-service terminal.
OTB also installed four TV screens for customers to watch the action.
The EZ-Bet opened on Sept. 24 (last Saturday) at Save-On Beverage Center, 320 West Ave. There will be a grand opening on Oct. 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. with some prizes.
There were 72 OTB parlors about 30 years in the Western New York, but that has been pared down to 25. However, the EZ-Bets are a way for OTB to offer a betting option in person without high overhead costs. WROTB now has 28 EZ-Bets. The one at the Save-On site, just across the street from the former OTB location, is the first in Orleans County.
“It’s a way to get into smaller markets,” said Sean Schiano, director of branch operations for WROTB, which is based in Batavia. “We can’t have all of the brick and mortar locations. This is a way to be in small towns and smaller cities.”
Schiano said the sites give a boost to the host businesses. They give up a little bit of space, and get added foot traffic to their sites. Most of the EZ-Bets are at restaurants or bars. There are some in bowling alleys and convenience stores. Those businesses typically are open later than OTB parlors, which benefits many customers, Schiano said.
One customer at the EZ-Bet in Albion today said he is grateful for the local place to wager. He didn’t like having to drive to Batavia to bet since the OTB closed in Albion about seven months ago. Although OTBs have seen a drop in betting in recent years, the customer, who asked that his name not be used, said there are still many local OTB diehards who enjoy betting on the horses.
To see a list of OTB and EZ-Bet locations in WNY, click here.