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Historical Horse Racing Machines Have Been Shut Down In Wyoming

Historical horse racing machines will remain shut down in Wyoming for at least weeks, and more likely a few months.


Since the machines werelegalized in Wyoming in 2013, they’ve brought in tens of millions in revenue for the horse racing industry—and generated millions in taxes for the state. Historical horse racing machines currently exist at more than a dozen locations throughout the state.


But a September 23 Wyoming Attorney General’s report found that the “bonus rounds” on most of the machines relied on chance, not skill, to produce an outcome, and therefore were in violation of the 2013 law that legalized historical horse racing in the state.


Last Friday, the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission, which regulates horse and dog racing in the state, issued an order suspending all historical horse racing machine operations until they could be brought into compliance with the Attorney General’s report.


At a special meeting this morning the committee heard from Race Tech, the vendor who wrote the software for these machines. A company spokesperson said it will need between 12 and 15 weeks to write a software update.


“It’s going to be really tough,” said Wyoming Horse Racing LLC President Eugene Joyce, who runs live horse races and operates historical horse racing machines in the state. “For all of our stakeholders: my employees, the cities and counties, the horsemen. We all take a financial hit. I don’t know any business that can stop operating [for 12-15 weeks] and still survive.”


Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission Executive Director Charles Moore said that the Commission had no choice but to suspend the machines after the state Attorney General released his report, but he doesn’t expect historic horse racing to go away in the state forever. “We are all looking at this as a long term situation,” he said. “And hopefully, with the [historical horse racing machine operators] moving swiftly to rectify the concerns and problems we see, we can get this back on track.”

Last Thursday, before historical horse racing machines were suspended in Wyoming, I reported a story about historical horse racing machines and the nationwide debate surrounding them for Marketplace, a nationally syndicated radio program on business and the economy. Click here to read it.

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