Wyoming Downs approaches commission to operate in Goshen County

GOSHEN COUNTY – The Goshen County Commission tabled a resolution to approve Wyoming Downs, LLC to place pari-mutuel wagering machines in bars at their meeting on Feb. 16. 

Jill Jarrard, Wyoming Downs public relations specialist, told the commission the machines would only be placed in bars, and it would take a few months to put machines in bars due to close regulation by the Wyoming Gaming Commission. Jarrard said Natrona County, for example, approved the machines four months ago and they are about to turn their machines on this week. 

“It’s taken four months of jumping through gaming commission hoops to make sure it’s done right. We’re kind of writing the book on this, the gaming commission is working with us, so it’s a slow process and it’s an account-by-account process it’s not something the Gaming Commission just signs off on,” Jarrard said.

Once a bar approaches Wyoming Downs about installing a terminal, they work with the gaming commission to get employees licensed, install cameras and a machine to pay out winning tickets and more, Jarrard said. 

Taxes generated would stay in the county. 

Gay Woodhouse spoke in opposition of the resolution on behalf of Cowboy Skill Games, a group of Wyoming amusement vending companies whose skill games are in restaurants and bars. Woodhouse said a “blanket” resolution like the one presented would open Goshen County up to “full-on gambling.”
“It can change the landscape of your community by allowing full-on slot machines to go in, and a blanket resolution is taking your local control,” Woodhouse said. “You’re exercising, what do we want here in this particular location, how do the neighbors feel about it, what are the security measures, all these different things required. All of that is gone if you do this blanket resolution.”

Chairman John Ellis said the GCC will have to discuss the proposal with County Attorney Eric Boyer before they make any decisions, leading them to table the issue. 

In other business, the commission considered three health insurance providers who applied to insure Goshen County employees, including Agile Health Insurances, Goshen Financial Strategies and Willis Towers Watson. Ultimately, the GCC decided to go with Goshen Financial Strategies, locally owned by Corey Steinmetz and Celsie Sussex. 

“We’re trying to go local,” Ellis said. “The economic situation the way it is today, the closer we are to home, the better off we are.”
The commission awarded its Goshen County Community Charitable Relief Program grants funded by CARES Act dollars. The county was allocated $281,963.55 to provide to charitable nonprofit organizations who have provided public assistance or seen a decline in donations during the pandemic.

Saint Joseph’s Children’s Home was awarded $217,300.95, Goshen Senior Friendship Center was awarded $11,000, Wyoming Child and Family Services was awarded $26,744.30 and Community Healthcare Foundation was awarded $26,918.30, according to Goshen County Clerk Cindy Kenyon. Commissioner Justin Burkart said every qualified applicant received what they asked for.

Goshen HELP Executive Director Kyle Borger commended the commission on the treatment of the program funds.

“You have good applicants and I believe this will do well in our community,” he said.

Borger also addressed the commission about Goshen HELP, a local nonprofit funded by a Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) aimed at addressing poverty. 

The organization started in Goshen County but now serves five additional counties, including Niobrara, Carbon, Crook, Washakie and Weston counties. 

Local donations stay in the communities they come from, Borger said. In Goshen County, a community needs assessment revealed the highest needs are livable wages, affordable housing, mental and physical health services and youth support. 

The ultimate goal of the organization is a self-sufficient community.

“We want to find a way for the counties and the communities to be independent within themselves, with their own local resources, and find a way to where businesses can be supported by residents who live there or tourists,” Borger said. “We currently don’t have the expertise, the staff to make that available, but we’re starting to have conversations with various groups across the state to figure out what some of those solutions might be.”

Goshen HELP works with and supports other agencies and organizations within Goshen County doing this work.

“We don’t have to have the answer, we do not have to be the lead agency,” Borger said. “We do have some financial support that we can provide for the cause, and in whatever way we can be a party to that, we desire to do so.”

The Goshen County Commission will hold their next meeting on March 2 at 9 a.m.


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