Commissioners approve pari-mutuel betting facility

Brian Artery (left) and Rex Johnson, two Platte County attorneys, were present at the meeting to represent Jan Harvey with the Bucking Horse Grill. Harvey is currently negotiating a contract with 307 Horse Racing for the lease of her business location. Cynthia Sheeley/Torrington Telegram

Resolution provides more local control

TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commissioners convened for a special meeting to address the resolution addressing the 307 Horse Racing facility on Monday, Sept. 25 at the Goshen County Courthouse. 

Chairman Michael McNamee was present with fellow commissioners Justin Burkart and Aaron Walsh. 

“I want to, again, thank everybody for their patience and for allowing us as commissioners to do what we have felt like we needed to do pertaining to our due diligence, and making sure that we are not going to put Goshen County in a position a compromising position,” McNamee said opening up the meeting.

This facility is a Wyoming-owned company that focuses on pari-mutual wagering on historic races.

“I would just like to say that we’ve enjoyed working with everybody in the community [in Goshen County],” Kyle Ridgeway, vice-president of 307 Horse Racing told the commissioners Monday. “We’re really excited about the project. We’re excited to give Jan (Harvey of the Bucking Horse) an opportunity to ultimately exit her business, which isn’t an easy thing to do in a restaurant business.”

“We appreciate all the time and consideration that you have already given us and the opportunities that we’ve had to come out and explain everything and try to find a workable path forward,” he continued. “We’re just really excited about the project and are hopeful that we’ll be given an opportunity to prove ourselves like we have in all our other communities.”

Over the last couple of months, the commissioners have paid special attention to the details of the resolution pertaining to permitting this type of facility. According to McNamee, the resolution has been fashioned and worked on from many different angles. 

“This is something we want to make sure that we try to take account all the different angles of how something like 307 Horse Racing, and what we believe is probably others that are going to follow, could impact Goshen County,” McNamee explained. 

“We in Goshen County would all probably agree that we’re not in a boom cycle right now; we continue to lose businesses,” he continued. This resolution before us hopefully gives us an opportunity to bring commerce back into the county.”

McNamee said there are many potential pros and cons to this type of facility. This type of gambling was passed by the voters in 2016 in the county. There are already several gambling-type games in businesses throughout the county.

“This resolution, with the language that has been put into it, does afford Goshen County some protection,” McNamee said. “It provides some things that will keep us out of a negative situation moving forward. If this isn’t something that is positive for Goshen County, the resolution is something that with the help of the gaming commission, we have the ability to regulate the facility.” 

The other commissioners each expressed their agreement with McNamee’s statements.

After calling a vote, the commissioners unanimously approved the resolution. 

Ridgeway and Jack Greer, CEO, of 307 Horse Racing originally introduced the business to the county commissioners back in November. However, as a result of it being an election year, the commissioners tabled the topic until the incoming commissioners took office. 

According to the meeting minutes, discussion of the topic was picked back up at the first meeting in June. Later, Ridgeway and Greer revisited the commissioners at the first meeting in July to provide an informative presentation about the business. 

As a result of the topic being very controversial, the commissioners tabled the topic until Aug. 1 when they held a public comment. This was an opportunity for the commissioners to gain an understanding of both sides of the issue. 

On July 25, the Torrington City Council held a public comment to also discuss the issue, since the original location was to be off of Main Street in Torrington. 

After both public comment sessions, Ridgeway and Greer proposed a new location for the facility, which was announced at the second August meeting. This facility was the Bucking Horse Grill outside of the city limits. 

At this time, the commissioners waited to cast their final votes until they had finalized a satisfactory resolution pertaining to the business. The main issue for the commissioners was to have an adequate definition of “good cause” to help safeguard the county in the event of something going wrong.

The special meeting was scheduled after a discussion at the meeting on Sept. 19 that recommended a decision be made before Oct. 1 by the parties involved. 

“As far as Goshen County Commissioners have done as far as protecting the county, you guys have raised the bar,” Cactus Covello, a member of the Wyoming Gaming Commission told the commissioners. “Normally all we get in the form of a resolution is about four sentences. This is probably going to change what happens going forward with regards to gaming in the state of Wyoming.”

“[Moving forward, more counties will probably] have some additional sideboards, control and a little bit more of hands-on local control with regard to this,” he continued. “I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually, you’ll even see some changes with the legislature, which is pretty wide open. You guys have really raised the bar as far as putting some local control in it and I commend you for that.”

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