GREEN RIVER– The Town Bar & Grill was approved by the Green River City Council in a 6-1 vote Tuesday night to allow live and historic horse racing wagering in their establishment.
Councilman Gary Killpack was the single vote against the request.
Town Bar & Grill will be a satellite location for Wyoming Horse Racing LLC. Wyoming Horse Racing is hoping to have operations going by mid-July, which will include pari-mutuel wagering on live horse racing, historic horse racing, and simulcast events.
Bringing Revenue into the City
According to Eugence Joyce, President and General Manager of Wyoming Horse Racing, the City of Green River should realize $75,000 to $150,000 in the first year of operation.Last year, historic horse racing wagering brought in a total of $570 million in revenue, and out of that money, $524 million was returned back to the gamblers, or over 90 percent.
“People are going and wagering on historic horse races and they use it for a form of entertainment,” Buck Hubert, Town Bar & Grill owner said. “The reason I want to bring it to Green River is because I’m a businessman. I want to bring more revenue into my place and because Green River doesn’t have this facility, I’m losing Green River based customers to Rock Springs.”
According to Hubert, of that $570 million, $5.7 million is going back to the cities and counties. Wyoming Horse Racing LLC in particular has operations in Cheyenne, Sheridan, Evanston, Mills, Gillette, and Rock Springs. These facilities alone bring in $314 million, of which $3.1 million goes back to the cities and counties.
The County and Rock Springs Have Seen Increased Revenue
Over half a million dollars in revenue gained from horse racing wagering was given to the City of Rock Springs, of which $279,000 came from Wyoming Horse Racing. Over $446,000 was given to Sweetwater County, of which $279,000 came from Wyoming Horse Racing. Hubert pointed out that Green River could also earn some of this revenue.
“When we come in here, we’re talking budgets, we’re talking about money and revenue, and this is money that is being spent. The people of Sweetwater County and Green River have chosen to spend this money,” Hubert said.
Town Bar & Grill placed a smiliar request to the City of Green River about a year ago, but they lost a business partner. Now, a year later, they came back to propose the same thing. Sweetwater County already approved the request prior to the Green River City Council.
Hubert noted that there was some controversy surrounding the legality of horse racing wagering, however, it was authorized in 2013 and passed by the State of Wyoming under HB 25. “All is does is it allows wagering of historic racing. This was made to preserve the nature of live horse racing,” Hubert said. As per state statute, no one under the age of 18 will be allowed to use the machines or place wagers. Councilman Jim Zimmerman asked Green River Police Chief Tom Jarvie if the GRPD foresees any issues with enforcement. Chief Jarvie assured that Town Bar & Grill has always stayed aware and updated of what the police department is enforcing, and that he did not foresee any issues with needing increased enforcement.
“We don’t have problems really with the liquor license holders in town, we don’t expect any problems with this,” Chief Jarvie said.