SWEETWATER COUNTY — The Sweetwater County Commission unanimously approved to allow 307 Horse Racing Inc. to conduct parimutuel wagering on live horse racing, historic horse racing, and simulcast events in Rock Springs.
During its meeting Tuesday, the Commission expressed their support in allowing a new horse racing company, one that is owned and operated in Wyoming, to bring more competition to this industry locally. 307 Horse Racing plans to open at 1030 Dewar Drive in Rock Springs.
“I believe in competition and I believe having another company in the space will do good things for Sweetwater County,” Commissioner Island Richards said.
307 Horse Racing Vice President Kyle Ridgeway said the company believes strongly in “local control” and that is why they are willing to report on operations biannually to the Commission. He said 307 Horse Racing has eight operating locations across the state, including in Gillette, Sheridan, Cheyenne, Rawlins, Douglas, Riverton, and two locations in Casper.
Ridgeway noted that their liquor licenses are all in good standing at each location and that they are on good terms with the county governments and local law enforcement.
While the Commission believed adding competition to the local horse racing industry has the ability to be a positive thing for Sweetwater County, one Rock Springs resident expressed concerns with adding another off-track betting location to the community.
Jordan Jenkins, a Rock Springs native, said that while his concern is not with 307 Horse Racing specifically, he and local bar owners do have concerns about adding more gambling locations to Sweetwater County. Jenkins said he worries about hurting local bars and businesses by adding more off-track betting locations.
“Our main concerns are coming from local bar owners that have been here for multiple generations,” Jenkins said. “How far are we going to allow this to go for our community?”
He pointed out that Rock Springs already has two “mini casinos”, and he claimed this is not what he and many other residents want for Wyoming.
“We’re just concerned it’s going to get to a point where we have a mini casino on every corner,” Jenkins said.
While Jenkins was not asking the Commission to deny 307 Horse Racing’s request to conduct business in Rock Springs, he was asking the Commission to table the resolution until the community could get more information.
“This place is my home,” Jenkins said. “We just don’t want to see it change to an extent where we don’t like it anymore.”
The Commission’s Role
However, Commissioner Richards said it is not the County Commission’s role to protect businesses from future businesses coming in and competing with them. As a business owner himself, he said it would not be right of him to use his position to keep other convenience stores from coming into Sweetwater County to avoid competing with his own.
He also pointed out that the Commission can approve licenses, but it’s the Wyoming Gaming Commission that determines what businesses are appropriate for communities. Richards said the current legislation gives the Commission a limited role. Additionally, Sweetwater County Deputy Attorney John DeLeon said there is currently no limit on how many of these off-track betting locations can operate in a community.
Chairman Keaton West agreed with Richards, though he stated he does have some concerns for the future with these off-track betting locations. However, he said they’ve already approved two other businesses to conduct parimutuel wagering in Sweetwater County so it would “seem off” if they suddenly denied 307 Horse Racing, especially since 307 Horse Racing is based in Wyoming.
West noted that these licenses are for three years so that does give the Commission some monitoring power.
Ridgeway also pointed out that 307 Horse Racing is not affiliated with the other two companies in the area, and claims they offer something different. He said they often have nice restaurants at their locations, and they also offer full benefits to their employees, as they prioritize having nice facilities with happy staff. He claimed their presence in the market has helped improve the industry in Wyoming.
“We think since we’ve come on the market since 2021 and opened locations over the last 18 months, the competition has helped heal the industry a little bit in terms of making these other folks put more money towards the race meets, clean their facilities up, buy games, and invest in the facilities more,” Ridgeway said. “And we think that by coming here, especially with the locations that are currently in this county, we think we can help bring the product base up.”
The Commission approved the resolution 5-0 with a few wording amendments. 307 Horse Racing’s next steps include going to the Rock Springs City Council to apply for a liquor license before seeking approval from the Wyoming Gaming Commission.