Commissioners consider pari-mutuel betting resolution

A. Marie Hamilton/Torrington Telegram Worldwide Environmental Regulatory Compliance Solutions (WERCS) CEO Kyle A. Ridgeway and 307 Horse Racing CEO/President Jack Greer gave a presentation to commissioners about a business opportunity they are seeking, which would help fund the county per Wyoming regulatory laws.

307 Horse Racing seeks new location in Torrington

GOSHEN COUNTY – Casper-based Worldwide Environmental Regulatory Compliance Solutions (WERCS) CEO Kyle A. Ridgeway and Gillette-based 307 Horse Racing CEO/President Jack Greer gave a presentation to commissioners about a business opportunity they are seeking, which would help fund the county per Wyoming regulatory laws.

Much discussion occurred between Goshen County Commissioners Justin Burkart, Cody Cox and Chairman John Ellis and business partners Greer and Ridgeway concerning bringing a pari-mutuel betting location to Torrington off of Main street, where Gary’s Gun Shop is currently located.

According to the Wyoming Gaming Commision (WGC), in 2013, Wyoming legalized pari-mutuel betting for historic horse racing; Wyoming Statute § 11-25-102(a),(v)&(vii)(A),(B). In 2016, Goshen County voted to legalize pari-mutuel betting for historic horse racing.

Pari-mutuel betting, also called “pari-mutuel event”, is defined by the state of Wyoming as: events which are authorized by the commission (WGC) for the conduct of horse racing (to include quarter horse, thoroughbred or other approved races), harness racing, cutter racing, chariot racing, chuckwagon racing, professional roping events and simulcasting of dog racing and the events described in this paragraph as prescribed by the commission. Notwithstanding W.S. 6-7-101(a)(iv) and 11-25-107, the commission may authorize and promulgate rules providing for pari-mutuel wagering on events that have previously occurred, utilizing an electronic system or device that affords an opportunity for the exercise of skill or judgment where the outcome is not completely controlled by chance alone.

Greer and Ridgeway presented commissioners with a proposed resolution for the county to decide. That resolution read as following:

A resolution approving 307 Horse Racing, Inc. to conduct pari-mutuel wagering on live horse racing, historic horse racing and simulcast events within Goshen County, Wyoming.

Whereas: the Wyoming State Legislature passed, and the governor of the State of Wyoming signed into law changes to Wyoming Statutes, Title 11, Chapter 25, to permit pari-mutuel wagering on historic races; and

Whereas: the Wyoming Gaming Commission has adopted rules and regulations regulating pari-mutuel wagering on simulcast events, including historic races; and

Whereas: 307 Horse Racing, Inc. (f/k/a 307 Horse Racing, LLC) currently holds the necessary and appropriate permits issued by the Wyoming Gaming Commission to operate simulcasting facilities, historic horse racing, and live horse racing in the State of Wyoming, including but not limited to in Campbell County, Sheridan County, Natrona County, Carbon County, and Laramie County; and

Whereas: The Goshen County Board of Commissioners recognize the economic and community benefits to Goshen County through live horse racing, historic horse racing and simulcasting within Goshen County;

Whereas: the Goshen County Board of Commissioners recognize the benefit to the horse industry of Goshen County through live horse racing, historic horse racing and simulcasting within Goshen County; and

Whereas, The Goshen County Board of Commissioners recognize that it is through revenue derived from simulcasting at locations off the permitted live horse racetrack premises that allows a live horse racing operator to conduct the live racing days required under W.S. 11-25-104(m) and WY Rules and Regulations 028.0001.10 § 3 within the State of Wyoming; and

Whereas: 307 Horse Racing, Inc. is a live horse racing operator that is both (i) licensed to conduct the minimum live race days required under W.S. § 11-24-104(m) and Chapter 10 of the Rules and Regulations of the Wyoming Gaming Commission within Goshen County on the annual basis and (ii) is conducting said live horse racing in Campbell County (excepting days that are canceled for good cause due to weather or other uncontrollable circumstances); and

Whereas: Wyoming Statute § 11-25-102(a)(vii)(B) provides that “Simulcasting may be conducted off the permitted premises only if the board of county commissioners of the county in which such simulcasting will be conducted grant [grants] its approval.”’ and

Whereas: said permitted premises is located at 1701 Main Street, Torrington, Wyoming 82240.

Ultimately, Ellis, Cox and Burkart agreed the board of commissioners wanted to give residents of Goshen County an opportunity to be heard at a county commissioners meeting before the board made any decisions.

Greer and Ridgeway spend much of their time discussing the pros and cons of bringing in such a business – as well as the benefits it would ultimately give to Goshen County.

Per state statutes, as cited above, 1% of total bet profits will be split 50/50 with Torrington and Goshen County.

“Comparatively speaking with a facility we own and operate in Rawlings, where it’s about the same size and same population, the county and city of Rawlings receives an equal share of about $300 thousand dollars – to spend however they please – annually from that facility,” Greer explained to commissioners.

“Currently we have six facilities that are reinvesting that 1% of its total bet profits back into Wyoming and its surrounding communities,” Greer further explained. “We have one facility in Gillette, two in Sheridan, one in Casper, one in Cheyenne and one in Rawlings – hopefully Torrington will be the seventh facility.”

Greer further explained his background and love of horses and traditional horse races to commissioners. Greer said, “It’s all about the horse racing – we aren’t trying to turn Wyoming into Vegas or anything like that. We love horse racing and historic horse races and want to share the benefits of pari-mutuel betting with the rest of Wyoming.”

Business partner Ridgeway, said he understands commissioners' hesitance and reluctance due to the stigma associated with gambling, betting centers and entertainment businesses 307 wishes to establish. However, Ridgeway continuously reassured commissioners, “our intent is to create an elevated entertainment experience for Goshen County and Wyoming.”

“We certainly understand the unsavory side of such a business and why Goshen County and Wyoming would want to protect its communities from such incidents,” Ridgeway explained. “However, we have zero intent to get involved with such behaviors – in fact, our other six facilities routinely ensure they are kept up to the community standards in the county and we work hard with the state, the county’s and the locals to ensure it’s a place they want to go to.”

Ridgeway also explained how the state requires additional stipulations, like working with local breweries and suppliers, “and this further goes to help bring money into the county and energize it more.”

County commissioners also inquired about who would come into the county to run, operate and work at the facility in Torrington, Ridgeway and Greer explained it’s the highest goal for them to recruit, train and employ local Goshen County and/or Torrington residents for the planned facility in Torrington.

“Our utmost goal is recruiting, hiring, training and empowering locals to run, manage and work at the facility here in Torrington,” Greer assured commissioners of. “In our experience, this sort of entertainment business thrives best when local residents are employed, which in turn, will not only bring more money to the county and city through the business itself, but it will return that investment back into the community when they spend their paychecks locally also.”

Ridgeway and Greer explained that pari-mutuel betting is legal in Wyoming because the payouts are 90-93%, nearly double of what Las Vegas, Nevada allows in its gaming and gambling industry.

“So we handicap the outcome in advance, it looks like slot machines, but the reason it’s legal is because pari-mutuel betting pays out at much higher rates, between 90-93%, which gets paid back to the wager,” Ridgeway explained.

The business partners also explained how state law requires the business to have a certain number of live race days, of which will be held at a “premiere, premium” horse racing stadium in Caspher each year.

While the business partners were disappointed that county commissioners wanted to first hear from Goshen County residents, they understood and told commissioners they looked forward to hearing from them in the future regarding the decision to grant or reject the resolution to approve the permit for 307 Horse Racing, Inc.

There is no current time-frame as to how long that might be from the county commissioners at this time. The Telegram will continue to report updates as they are made available.

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