By CAMERON WALKER
Wyoming Downs LLC — a horse race wagering company that operates throughout the state — received approval Feb. 20 from the Albany County Commission to change its location in Laramie.
Under Wyoming state statute, organizations where patrons wager on both live and historic races has to be approved by local commissions when they come into the community or change locations.
Having the County Commission’s approval, the organization can move its Laramie operations from the Sushi Boat at 501 Boswell Drive to a vacant building on North Third Street, Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent said.
“Wyoming Downs came to the commission and requested to change the location — they have to have approval from the commission,” Trent said. “One of the locations they were submitting was on Boswell Drive, the former Sushi Boat, to (666) N. Third St., which was the Shari’s.”
Albany County Commission Chairman Tim Chesnut said when the commission approved the change, they thought it would be a good idea to have the building occupied.
“What I would like to see is (having someone use) that big building sitting there empty,” Chesnut said. “Having someone in there, paying rent or buying it or whatever they did, was a good thing for that part of Laramie.”
Since Wyoming Downs came to Laramie in the 2015-2016 financial year, the county has received thousands of dollars in taxes from them, Trent said.
“The year we approved this, 2015-2016, we generated revenue of $68,000 from the gambling, (which) went into our general fund,” she said.
Trent said Wyoming State Statute allows for communities to allow pari-mutuel horse race wagering, where people bet on what they think the first, second and third place horses would be. The statute states this type of wagering could only become legal in counties that voted to have it. About 50 years ago, residents of Albany County had a special election where the racing was allowed as a result, she said.
“Under Title 11 of Wyoming law, it allows for the citizens to go to a vote whether they want to allow pari-mutuel race within our community,” Trent said. “In this specific case in Albany County back in 1967, there was a special election held at that time and they voted to allow (a certain type of wagering).”
As time went on, the state needed to better define gambling laws for advances in gaming and included some of these new technologies into the law, she said.
“In 2006, there was some discussion in case law determining what meets the definition of pari-mutuel racing and how far is that permitted,” Trent said.
“At that time, they found that it would include instant racing, terminals and gambling devices.”
Seven years later, lawmakers revisited the state’s gambling laws regarding wagering on simulcast races, she said. Simulcast races allow people to bet on prerecorded horse races, also known as historical racing, as if they were actually happening, Trent said.
“(Lawmakers) adopted these rules in 2013 and (a few years later) came Wyoming Downs,” she said. “With the commission and are regulated by them to conduct the pari-mutuel horse racing and operate that simulcast pari-mutuel wagering on live or historical horse racing.”
Go to www.wydowns.com for more information.