County Green Lights Horse Race Wagering at Wyoming Downs

Pari-mutuel wagers on live and historical horse races were approved for two Wyoming Downs locations in Campbell County, per a majority decision by the Board of Commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday.

Wyoming Downs LLC employees Rochelle McGowan and Rick Cook tuned into the meeting via phone to request the commissioners’ approval to conduct pari-mutuel wagering at their original location on Westover Road as well as at their newly proposed location, which is slated to replace the building currently occupied by Mingles Bar on S. Douglas Highway.

Pari-mutuel wagering is conducted when individuals place cash on bets on the outcome of an event with each bet added to a ‘handle’ that is divided among the top three winners. For years, it was illegal in Wyoming. Since statutes were adjusted in 2013, however, Wyoming Downs and other wagering companies have been able to open off track betting (OTB) facilities. In order to conduct this form of wagering in Wyoming, a facility must be permitted by the Wyoming Games Commission before requesting additional approval from the local board of county commissioners.

Wyoming Downs employee Kurt Siebenaler explained that the company hosts both live horse races from their private racetrack in Evanston as well as virtualized historic horse races that can be played on betting machines inside their facilities.

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Here’s the catch: 1% of Wyoming Downs’ earnings must be distributed evenly between the city and county in which the wagers were placed. According to Wyoming Gaming Commission’s annual report, pari-mutuel wagers racked up almost $140,000 in total revenue for Campbell County and the City of Gillette last year.

During the meeting, Cook and McGowan provided the board with an overview of their request before Commissioner Colleen Faber moved to approve the resolution.

Chairman DG Reardon, Commissioners Rusty Bell, Del Shelstad and Faber voted in favor of the resolution, while Commissioner Bob Maul voted against it.

Ultimately, the motion passed, officially permitting Wyoming Downs to conduct pari-mutuel wagering in Campbell County, limited to horse racing, historical racing and simulcast events hosted in their two local facilities.