From the Morning Memo:

Batavia Downs and Western Regional Off-Track Betting is doubling down on a “high-rollers” program despite questions raised by media outlets and local lawmakers about the program’s implementation.

Management announced it intends to expand the “Suitestakes” ticket giveaways at their gaming facility. It plans to enter into a three-year agreement with Pegula Sports and Entertainment for a suite at the Buffalo Bills football stadium. It just finished the first year of a three-year suite contract at the Key Bank Center in Buffalo, as well.

“Our Suitestakes program has and continues to help us achieve record results,” Marketing Director Ryan Haseneur said. “We will be expanding the number of times and methods with which we distribute the tickets to ensure future success.  Revenues from the facility are distributed to the shareholders of Western OTB including the 15 Western and Central New York counties and 2 cities of Buffalo and Rochester.  Our success means more money is given to those municipalities.”

The program is intended to be a perk for customers who regularly spend money at the racino facility, however former state Senator George Maziarz suggested earlier this year the tickets were actually being given to friends and family of board members and management. Several news outlets, as well as Niagara County lawmakers, have requested access to the “high-rollers” list but OTB has denied, arguing its customers have a right to privacy.

OTB leaders have vehemently defended the program though, noting it has been in place since 2014 and recently received a prestigious casino marketing award. It said, despite withholding the names from the general public, invite the NYS Gaming Commission to review the allegations, and two inspectors accepted the invitation.

“Following this review, the inspectors advised WROTB that they were pleased with our cooperation and fully satisfied that the records they reviewed and the interviews they conducted did not raise any issues of concern for the Gaming Commission,” President Henry Wojtaszek said.

The board plans to consider the resolution to enter into the agreement at the Bills’ stadium at its meeting this month.