SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commission approved two resolution renewals for Wyoming Downs, LLC off-track horse betting locations Tuesday, but kept the three-year sunset dates in tact.
The resolution renewals were approved for locations at Town Bar & Grill in Green River, located at 95 East Railroad, and 63 Center Street in Rock Springs, which is the old Sears building. Both resolutions allow Wyoming Downs to conduct pari-mutuel wagering on live horse racing, historic horse racing, simulcast events, and rodeo events at these locations.
However, Wyoming Downs was seeking removal of the sunset dates on these resolutions, which require them to seek re-approval every three years.
The Commission unanimously agreed that the sunset dates should be kept, as it allows the Commission to review the resolutions.
“Two weeks ago we’re receiving money from the state in regards to gambling addiction… well it seems pretty pointless in a sense to figure out where that money goes if you have these sunset dates that don’t even exist and the gambling can continue on anyway as long as you have the permit from the state gaming commissions,” Chairman Keaton West said.
Andrew Hubert, a representative with Wyoming Downs, said he was fine with the sunset dates, but he believed they should be consistent with all off-track horse betting facilities in the county. He said currently, Wyoming Downs sites are the only ones having to come in every three years.
Buckley Hubert, owner of Town Bar & Grill, said the playing field should be even when it comes to these locations. He said he previously had the Horse Palace in his facility before switching to Wyoming Downs.
“It troubles me that I’ve struggled for the last five years to keep my place open. I asked for horse racing five years ago and fought the city, fought the county, fought the state, they didn’t want me to have it, but yet they were okay with having the Horse Palace have an open blanket to open any facility that they want,” B. Hubert claimed.
“So finally when I did get the Horse Palace to come in here, the way they operate… to me was unethical. So I asked them to move out of my establishment, and by asking them to move out of my establishment, they had free reign with no say to move across town and do whatever they want and become my competition,” he claimed.
He said he had to “fight tooth and nail” with the previous County Commission to get permission to have Wyoming Downs come into his business. “And then a three-year sunset date was put on me but nobody else,” he said.
Chairman West said it makes sense to have all the off-track horse betting locations have the same sunset dates. However, he said those decisions were made by a previous Commission. West said he has no issue revisiting the resolutions with each of the locations, but that this was the first one to come to their attention.
“I feel that it’s only being imposed on me, it’s not being imposed on anybody else in the county. My facility creates just as much revenue as theirs does, and they have no oversight. They don’t have to come and visit you, they don’t have to report to you, you just get whatever reports the state gives them, but I have to come and revisit every three years,” B. Hubert said. “To me it doesn’t seem fair… I just feel it should be an even playing field. If I have to have the three-year sunset, I believe all of the entities should have to have a three year sunset.”
Commissioner Island Richards said these kinds of betting locations have the power to have both positive and negative impacts in the community. Therefore, he doesn’t think they should say these locations should exist forever and have no sunset dates.
He believes they should all be reviewed every three years, and if they can address the other permits legally, then they should.