OTBs changing in face of stiff competition - WFSB 3 Connecticut

OTBs changing in face of stiff competition

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With the talk about having more casinos in Connecticut, it has some businesses worried, including off track betting.

Sportech employs about 400 people at more than a dozen facilities and when MGM builds their casino in Springfield, MA, many could lose their jobs. If you haven't been to Connecticut Off Track Betting in Windsor Locks recently, there have been many changes. 

At Sportech near Bradley Airport, patrons can still bet on horses and greyhounds, but there's also a big restaurant with dozens of television screens. 

"You have to keep reinvesting because of competition from many different areas," Ted Taylor, who is the president at Sportech Venues, said.

Taylor said his toughest competition is online betting, which is why he has put $5 million into the Windsor Locks OTB in the past 18 months. However, he said when a casino is built in nearby Springfield, he won't be able to compete. 

"The people who work here are going to be looking for work and that's not fair," Taylor said. 

More casinos and more competition is definitely a concern for OTB as well as cities and towns, which get quite a bit of money in property taxes. 

"With what's being proposed at the Legislature, this place needs to be part of the mix to preserve jobs here," Windsor Locks First Selectman Steve Wawruck said. 

That's why Wawruck is on board with creating a partnership with Connecticut's two casinos and OTB. If Connecticut lawmakers allow the two tribes to build more casinos, one of them could be built in Windsor Locks or close by.

Taylor said that along with the future MGM in Springfield could hurt his business.

"The potential locations are so close to where we are right now, it's going to decimate my business," he said.

Talyor said there is plenty of space at Bradley for a facility that would combine all of these businesses.

Larry Nicholas lives in Springfield, but comes south to spend a couple hours betting on horses and getting a bite to eat. But he said a big new casino in his home town will be an attraction. His feeling is "you have to compete."

"If they partner up, that's even better," Nicholas said. "Then they can share what there is to be shared."

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