The Good: Nonsmoking!, Variety of slot machines, Very cool player's club benefits
The Bad: Dark, Lack of "atmosphere," Limited video slot machine selection.
The Basics: A perfectly average racetrack/casino, Batavia Downs Casino might not have a great selection, but it brings players back with a lot of coupons for free play and discounts!
As I prepare to take my wife back to Michigan for her twenty-first birthday, I am finally finishing off the reviews of the places the two of us went on our honeymoon! As odd or amusing as it might seem, as we meandered home from Niagara Falls back to our home in upstate New York, we stopped at a few small casinos and racinos and perhaps the more amusing thing is that we have since returned to two of the smaller, less impressive ones since. After all, when the winning is good, it is hard not to want to go back!
Small, state-run racinos are nothing new to us. We live very close to Vernon Downs Racino and there have been evenings where we'll take five bucks each and just go play there for a couple hours to have something to do (or we did before gardening season began). The Batavia Downs Racino was an unlikely one for us to stop at and actually enjoy, but when my wife turned a dollar into twenty, that was enough to get us to go back later on when they offered us $25.00 in free play. Whatever its deficiencies, Batavia Downs Casino makes up for them with its incentive programs. This might be a small, somewhat dark casino, but they sure go the extra mile to get people to come back again!
Batavia Downs Casino: came in with $6.00, left with $20.00.
Batavia Downs is a very small casino located at 8315 Park Road in Batavia, New York (14020, if you're trying to MapQuest it). This is about thirty-five minutes West of Rochester, New York and about twenty minutes East of Buffalo, NY. The easiest way to get to it is to take the Batavia exit on the New York State Thruway (Rt. 90) and follow the signs from the tollbooth to the Racino. On-line mapping programs like MapQuest tend to have the proper location for the Batavia Downs Casino.
Batavia Downs has an extensive parking area near the casino and that accommodates the casino, race track, and nearby hotel.
The Batavia Downs Casino is a small casino run by the state of New York (the same group that runs our lottery). The casino is contained on a single floor of a single building. All of the ceilings are high, all of the carpets are clean, but the place is essentially an upstairs hallway filled with video slot machines. In essence, one enters the Racino, ascends a staircase and finds themselves near the player's club service center with two choices: left is food and the lone smoking area and to the right is the main gaming floor. Batavia Downs Racino feels like a hallway with no real decor. The lighting is rather dark near the back of the casino floor. Near the front, it is brighter, but generally there is a safe feel to the place.
The gaming floor is actually one of the most sensible of any I have ever been to, at least in terms of getting around. In addition to a few video slots out in the "lobby" near the player's club (these are two-cent versions of games they have penny versions of on the main floor!) the main gaming floor is essentially broken into two parts. The first has a few banks of video slots running perpendicular to the main entrance, so when one walks in they have about four rows of about ten video slots obstructing them. They may either sit right down and gamble or go to either extreme end to get by them. After those banks, there are the four long rows of video slots extending perpendicular to the others toward the back wall. These long aisles allow for very easy access and this is very easy to get around.
Batavia Downs is a no smoking facility, so there is no problem with the atmosphere here. Instead, it is easy to breathe easy here. The air is clean, even if the place is kept dark in the back. It is pretty wonderful to sit down at a machine and not have cigar smoke next to you. There is a very small smoking room with some games, but as an avid nonsmoker, I've never ventured in there.
As for the "atmosphere" of the Batavia Downs, I do not recall ever seeing servers walking around offering drinks. The cages were all manned by people in white tuxedo shirts and Batavia Downs was notable for the fact that there were a pretty high number of men working the desks and cages. There is no real gimmick at Batavia Downs, which makes it a fairly bland little casino.
Gaming Options/Player's Club
I have a very simple gambling philosophy: I sit down at a slot machine with $5.00. I work it up to $10 or down to zero. I know my limits: I can afford to lose $5.00. So, when I am above that, I'll usually work it up or whittle it down to the next even $5.00. Have a strategy, know your limits: the Batavia Downs Casino worked quite well for me. In this case, my new wife and I had come into the casino with about six dollars between us, we played the five dollars down and on the way out, she saw "Ring Quest," played it and turned our last dollar into twenty, so I definitely lucked out with her!
I tend to like the video slot machines that are more girly themed or video game-like. Batavia Downs had a very standard selection of video slot machines, they have very few machines, but a bunch of each one. There were none of the newer machines I saw in Las Vegas or even at some of the other state-run racinos. However, we did find "Ring Quest" there - which has a very cool bonus game that my wife did amazing on - and when we went back the second time, they had gotten in her new favorite, "Neptune's Kingdom," so there was much to recommend it in that regard. There is a very typical selection of games, like "Alien," "Temptations of the Sea," "Rembrant's Riches," "Sphinx," "Mystic Mermaid," "Enchanted Unicorn," and "Green Stamps." The newest recognizable game seems to be the "Deal Or No Deal" video slot. The Batavia Downs Casino has a limited selection of video slot machines, but several of each one, save "Ring Quest." There are only about five hundred video slot machines at Batavia Downs.
For those who might be into games of chance and card games instead of video slot machines, you're out of luck at Batavia Downs, unless you like betting on horse races. This is a video slot machine depot and horse betting place, nothing more (in terms of gambling).
There is a player's club at the Batavia Downs. It is the Batavia Downs Gaming Player's Club and signing up is free and easy. Signing up (at least now) gives the player $25 in free play. This is actually a pretty incredible incentive as a month after we visited, they sent us a coupon for our free play. Showing up and redeeming the coupon, we were given five five-dollar tickets which we were able to put into the machines and play - or cash right out!
Points are accrued on the card by playing the video slots based on how much one bets. I've never found anything I could afford to buy with the points, but given that we are headed back, odds are I will have a better idea of what there is to spend points on in a few days.
The Batavia Downs Casino underplays entertainment and they only seem to have horse racing advertised for their entertainment options. Indeed, all of the coupons they have sent us advertise free things like the horse show in the parking lot! Outside gambling, there is the entertainment of horse racing. Blah.
Batavia Downs has a buffet, though we've yet to try it. It does seem to be a smaller buffet than most, though there are daily specials and events - like the upcoming Father's Day brunch. Still, even these are hardly as exciting as they could be. After all, why would one go to a buffet for "make your own sandwich" Deli day (Wednesdays). Still, tomorrow night, we might try out their taco buffet. In addition to the buffet, the restaurant - Grandstands - has regular dining options, but it is more fast food/diner food than fine fare. There is also the Crumbs Sweet Shoppe for dessert.
Unlike Las Vegas casinos, Batavia Downs Casino is not trading so much on shopping. I did not even see a place to cash in points for swag, so wherever they hide that is a mystery to me.
Batavia Downs is pretty much the sad little casino that can. It doesn't have much, but they work so hard with monthly coupons that add up that it makes it worth the trip to go the extra distance whenever my partner and I go visit family in Western New York. And for those passing through, it's a nice stop, even if it is not a great destination.
For other casino reviews, please check out my takes on:
Railroad Pass Casino
Turtle Creek Casino
For other travel reviews, please check out my index page on the subject for an organized listing by clicking here!
© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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