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Casino leader says legal sports gambling could save upstate casinos

(WHAM photo)

Batavia, N.Y. (13WHAM) - New York state could follow suit and legalize sports gambling following the U.S. Supreme's Court decision Friday.

That decision struck down a 25-year-old law banning it, opening the door for states to regulate the activity.

Henry Wojtaszek, the president & CEO of both Batavia Downs Casino and the Western Region Off Track Betting, says legal sports gambling could be a lifeline to support some struggling upstate casinos.

"Sports have never been more popular, and sports wagering has never been more popular," said Wojtaszek.

Wojtaszek says Batavia Downs and the OTB locations would likely see a revenue boost.

He says the industry could be big enough to boost ailing casinos, like del Lago, which recently asked the state for aid, but was denied.

The Washington Post reports the illegal sports betting industry could potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

"It's a lot of money these states are leaving on the table," said Wojtaszek.

Gamblers say it's about time sports betting became legal.

"It's entertainment," said Paul Clark. "Some people slot machines, some people like to bet sports."

Like Clark, fans like Brandin Scott say legal sports betting could boost economies and provide a newer angle to watch sports.

"It would bring enjoyment, more excitement, maybe watch a team you wouldn't watch, just keep you interested in a game," said Scott.

"Everyone I talk to. all my friends, they're ecstatic about it," said Clark. "I think it's just a great move."

New York's proposed sports gambling bill can be seen here.

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