It's official, you won't have to find a bookie or leave the area to place a bet on Saturday's final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown.
Matt's News, located at 93 E. Third St. in Dunkirk, is the new site for Dunkirk Off Track Betting. Roger E. Ruckman, Chautauqua County director for the Western Region of OTB, informed the OBSERVER on Monday that the OTB site was up and running. In February, Ruckman, said he had had discussions with a local businessman regarding opening a new site.
Nate Dolce is the owner of Matt's News and said the OTB operation officially opens today but one patron had already placed a bet - and lost. Dolce was asked how OTB came to be in operation at his store after it ceased operations at a site around the corner from the newsstand.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Matt’s News owner Nate Dolce is pictured with new equipment which is part of Dunkirk Off Track Betting now located at Matt’s News. The new OTB site officially opens today.
"It just basically sounded like a good idea. I know some people still miss it so you might as well give it a try," he replied. "Nobody was really talking about it, I just kind of pursued it on my own interest. I just felt that there's not a huge amount of volume on a regular basis, but I figure there's enough volume to still make it work for everybody and offer the service."
Dolce said it was a tight fit in the one-story building.
"We took advantage of every square inch we have in the building to try to accommodate the needs of everyone. There's seating for 16, we have four flat screens, we have a trained staff to help everybody with all their needs," he explained. "We're more than ready and more than accommodating for everybody."
Dolce owns the building but said the only way to expand is to "go up," as in adding a second floor. Adding more hours will take place as Dolce said he will stay open until 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
"If the play's there we will accommodate even later, but to start, every Friday and Saturday we're open to 9:30 now," he explained. "We wanted to be up and running obviously before May, but this is the way the time frame worked. I just can't praise the Western Regional Off Track Betting Region guys enough. Roger (Ruckman), I can't say enough positive things about Roger and how he's helped me."
Dolce said part of the delay was a bureaucratic issue.
"They did everything they could as fast as they could. The way it's set up it's not up to the Western Region to give me the license, they have to go through the state," he stated. "They took a couple meetings to approve and as soon as the state approved it the Western guys got here right away. They were super accommodating to help me out the best they can."
Dolce was asked if there was anything else he wanted to say.
"Come down and play the ponies," he replied with a smile.
Dolce had another reason to smile as Monday was his birthday and present to wish him a happy 32nd was his brother, Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce.
"I'm thrilled that there's a location back in the city, I know there were a lot of people disappointed when it left the area," the mayor stated after admitting he had placed the first losing bet at the E-Z Bet site.
The former site, located around the corner from Matt's News, ceased operations Jan. 21 after being in that building since the mid 1980s. Dunkirk's first OTB opened in September of 1974 in what was then a new building at Main and Fifth streets. In 2001 the WROTBC offered the city $125,000 for waterfront property so it could build its own facility.
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