Gillete company bets on gaming at Hole Bowl alongside bowling – Jackson Hole News&Guide

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Horses burst out of their gates at Energy Downs in Gillette. Wyoming jockeys and horse breeders are subsidized by money from off-track betting and historic horse racing, a business venture that could enter Teton County under 307 Horse Racing.
The Powderhorn Plaza destination formerly known as Hole Bowl is now leased with contingencies to 307 Horse Racing.

Horses burst out of their gates at Energy Downs in Gillette. Wyoming jockeys and horse breeders are subsidized by money from off-track betting and historic horse racing, a business venture that could enter Teton County under 307 Horse Racing.
Before it closed quietly in late February, Jackson’s only public bowling alley was listed for $990,000.
Former Hole Bowl business owner Jessica MacGregor confirmed Tuesday that she sold the assets and gave up the lease.
“It has nothing to do with me anymore,” MacGregor said.
Now Wyoming gaming parlor operators Jack Greer and Kyle Ridgeway have a lease, with contingencies, for the Powderhorn Plaza location. The building is owned — along with the entire strip mall block — by Chroman Family Limited Partnership, formed by Lawrence and Antoinette Chroman.
If everything goes smoothly for Greer and Ridgeway of 307 Horse Racing, the plan is to turn the former Hole Bowl into the fifth branch of their “Derby Club” gaming parlor alongside the bowling alley, a bar and restaurant by fall.
307 Horse Racing is headquartered in Casper and its racetrack, Energy Downs, is in Gillette.
It’s too early to imagine what the space will look like, the team said, but the existing “vibe and ambiance” is just what they’re looking for, they said.
“We didn’t want to change the facility as is. We thought the facility made a lot of sense,” Ridgeway told the News&Guide. Plus they’d save on construction costs.
Greer said his model for multi-use spaces would preserve the thin-margined businesses of bowling and dining, and he’s not worried about finding an audience in Jackson.
The company still needs authorization from Teton County commissioners before it seeks a permit through the Wyoming Gaming Commission. If that is accomplished it will be the only gaming permittee in the county, according to Charles Moore, executive director of the Wyoming Gaming Commission.
Then 307 Horse Racing would seek a business, restaurant and liquor license from the town.
But Greer said his biggest concern wasn’t the bureaucracy, but public image. His machines might look like they belong in Caesars Palace, but as he said repeatedly, “We’re not Vegas.”
“It’s a Wyoming horse racing entity that’s offering a form of gaming to keep horse racing alive and thriving in the state of Wyoming,” Greer said.
The Powderhorn Plaza destination formerly known as Hole Bowl is now leased with contingencies to 307 Horse Racing.
307 Horse Racing takes advantage of Wyoming laws that allow parimutuel betting on horse racing that is live or streamed simultaneously and betting on historic horse racing — a gamified version of offtrack betting. Parimutuel simply means pooling bets and splitting the winnings minus a percentage for management.
Inside the algorithms for the historic horse racing machines is 50 to 60 years’ of data from horse races that have already happened. So, just like live betting, the results aren’t random and players have the opportunity to handicap themselves and pick which horses they think will win.
Teton County ratified a vote in favor of parimutuel betting in 1973. In 2013 the historic horse racing games were legalized statewide, both intended to prop up a dying race-breeding industry.
Greer and Ridgeway touted this model, which operates similarly to one in Kentucky, as not only a way to resurrect a piece of Wyoming culture but also as a way for the public to raise money.
A small portion of the money bet, 0.4%, goes back to Wyoming horse breeders. Greer said that purse money is rapidly growing and expected to reach around $5 million this year.
In order to operate betting, 307 Horse Racing has to hold a minimum of 16 days of real horse races, currently taking place as the Energy Downs at the Cam-Plex in Gillette.
Greer, who comes from a five-generation string of Wyoming jockeys, horse owners and traders, said it’s important to keep that tradition of horse breeding alive for the entire state.
“We have a horse in our state logo for God’s sake,” Greer told the News&Guide.
307 Horse Racing would be not only the only but the first to offer off-track betting and historic horse racing in Teton County. Local government would collect 1% of bets, split evenly between the town and county. Ridgeway said the public could expect around $750,000 in revenue from 307 Horse Racing’s first full year in the Hole Bowl location, not including sales tax.
That gamification of horse betting, with its bright bells and whistles, raised a few concerns for county commissioners during a workshop held Monday.
“God knows I have a minor that would become addicted to that, probably,” Commissioner Mark Newcomb said.
Commissioner Greg Epstein also wanted to know if the venue would be family friendly. When Hole Bowl closed it left a gap in the community for families, especially those with young kids to gather for events like birthdays, he said.
Greer responded that the intent would be to keep the Hole Bowl space family friendly by segregating the gaming section, like he has done in his Casper Derby Club.
If the entrances to the gaming and bowling alley cannot be separated, he said, there’s a chance the space would be open only to those 21 and older.
Greer and Ridgeway also have advertised the jobs and business their site would bring to Jackson. But to work there, employees would have to meet a high bar.
“All the employees that work in our facility have to be background checked,” Greer told county commissioners. “They’re licensed by the state Gaming Commission, so we can’t just hire anybody to work in there.”
Commissioners will take public comment and vote June 7 on making 307 Horse Racing a permittee at the former Hole Bowl location. If that passes the company will seek a permit from the Wyoming Gaming Commission, followed by required licenses from the town.
Contact Sophia Boyd-Fliegel at [email protected] or 307-732-7063.
Sophia covers county politics, housing, and workforce issues. A Pacific Coast devotee, she grew up in Washington, studied in California and has worked in Oregon and Alaska.
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