Historical Race Wagers Now Legal in Wyoming

Gov. Matthew Mead signed the bill into law Feb. 27.

Wyoming became the second state to enact wagering on historical races via legislative action Feb. 27.

According to Wyoming Horse Racing, the lone racetrack operator in the state, Gov. Matthew Mead signed the bill into law. It allows the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission to promulgate rules governing historical race wagering, also known as Instant Racing.

Historical race wagering machines resemble video lottery terminals but have been ruled as pari-mutuel in Arkansas and now Wyoming. In Kentucky, two racetracks have the machines under Kentucky Horse Racing Commission rules, but the fate of historical race wagering is in the hands of the state Supreme Court.

"We want to thank the Wyoming legislators and Gov. Mead for giving a leg up to an industry that two years ago was flat on its back," Eugene Joyce, managing partner of Wyoming Horse Racing, said in a release. "This will allow our industry to expand the number of race days and to dramatically increase purse money and breeder awards for the horsemen."

Wyoming Horse Racing, based in Evanston, operates Sweetwater Downs and six off-track betting parlors, two of which are temporarily closed. Sweetwater Downs, according to a calendar, is scheduled to race only four days in 2013 and is the only track approved for racing dates this year.

Since 1968, live racing has been held in seven counties in Wyoming. A few locations have also offered pari-mutuel roping.

According to the pari-mutuel commission's 2011 annual report, about $115,000 was wagered on four live racing programs in 2011. In 2009, eight racing programs generated $596,000 in handle. In 2010, more than $9 million was wagered on full-card simulcasts, according to the annual report.

In the report, the commission noted that live and simulcast handle has largely shifted to advance deposit wagering.

Joyce said historical race wagering revenue will also go to cities and counties that host OTB facilities. He said an increase racing dates in Wyoming is projected to create a local economic impact of about $1 million per race day.