New teletheater a good bet

Capital OTB gets a new and improved home

— Capital OTB’s new Clubhouse Race Book on Central Avenue only opened on New Year’s Day, but it’s already a hit.

“We had great crowds the first two days. Sunday, we had over 500 and Monday more than 300. The response has been well received,” said John Signore, president and CEO of Capital OTB.

Neil Benjamin, a Niskayuna resident and die-hard horse racing enthusiast, was one of the teletheater’s first customers. Already, he’s been there three times.

“It’s fantastic. It’s such an improvement in so many different ways from the old place,” said Benjamin. “I tell everyone this is really like a Las Vegas sports book, it really is.”

A Las Vegas atmosphere is exactly what Signor had in mind for the 23,000-square-foot facility, which is equipped with more than 240 flat screen TVs, the largest projector screens in the Capital District and a full bar and restaurant.

“It really provides customers with a Vegas-type atmosphere and in our view, it’s better than a lot of Las Vegas facilities,” said Signor. “I visited a number of casinos and OTB facilities … and tried to take the best I saw from each one of them and the result is this facility.”

Benjamin knows a thing or two about what makes an OTB facility great for hardcore racing fans. He’s been a “regular” at Capital District OTB since at least 1979 when he was a charter member of the now defunct Golden Horseshoe Club, and he occasionally travels out of town to get his fix.

The Clubhouse Race Book is a huge step up from what Benjamin is used to, since the previous facility was a bit dark and outdated.

“It’s bright, which is good for people like me who need to read the data and the racing form. They’ve got all these separate individual little cubicles for the real serious player with your own television. … They’ve got a ton of brand new self-betting machines,” said Benjamin. “They’ve gone to great lengths to change not only the building but the whole experience and environment.”

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