Wyoming Downs Struggles With New Horse Race Machines
Wyoming Downs LLC, which operates eight historic racing machine venues across the state, recently decided to close half of its locations.
The player reaction to the new instant racing machines installed in December, 2015 has been disappointing, and Wyoming Downs has had to drastically downsize its operations to accommodate the reduced player base.
“The majority of our employees were placed on layoff status beginning (Wednesday) – approximately 70 percent of our employees,” said Chief Operating Officer Rick Cook. “We have eight total locations, and we’ve had to close four of them. Those are in Gillette, Evansville, one in Cheyenne at The Outlaw Saloon and one in Laramie.”
Wyoming Downs Racetrack is the largest and only privately owned racetrack in Wyoming. It’s located 10 miles north of Evanston.
Historic horse racing machines allow patrons to place bets on past horse races, though the horses’ names and the dates and locations of the races are omitted. Instead, patrons make educated bets through handicapping information on the horses competing in each race.
Last October, the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission shut down all historic horse-race machines in the state, reasoning that the way the machines were operating did not conform to state law due to the inclusion of a “bonus game” based on chance. Wyoming Downs has since replaced the non-compliant machines with new ones that do adhere to the law, but customer reception has not met expectations.
The company has been working with a new vendor to introduce new games that Wyoming Downs hopes will reinvigorate its customer base, but so far the Pari-Mutuel Commission has refused to approve the new games.
“We are working to develop a game that will be attractive to players and meet the rules,” Cook said. “But that development and deployment has taken longer than we thought it would.”
Cook said his goal is to get a new game approved by the Pari-Mutuel Commission within the next five to six weeks. If it proves successful among customers, then he hopes to begin reopening locations and bringing employees back to work.