By Sarah Elmquist Squires
On Saturday, as you don your fancy hat and gear up for the most well-known horse race in the U.S. – the Kentucky Derby – there’s a new derby outfit in Riverton where you can celebrate in style.
The Derby Club recently opened, sharing the building with The Starting Gate, and it’s one of just a few horse-betting operations in the state. There are only 40-some such licenses in the state, and 307 Horse Racing, which owns and operates The Derby Club, is the only Wyoming owned and operated license holder.
At the club, you can not only bet on big races like the Kentucky Derby, but also horse and dog races from around the world that are simulcast at the club. And even if races aren’t your cup of tea, the venue is stocked with brand-new machines similar to slot play to boot. The machines all boast progressive jackpots tied to other machines at 307’s six other off-track betting facilities – since Director of Gaming Kris Brown opened the first of the company’s off-track sites, the biggest payout was over $240,000. The difference in the “historic horse racing machines” is that the math is tied to historic horse races. The trigger for “hand pays” and when a person has to claim a win on their taxes is also a bit different than in traditional casino slots – tied to the person’s bet, rather than a flat maximum payout.
In order to operate off-track betting, the company also has to have its own track – for 307 Horse Racing, that is a giant Gillette facility, with its next race coming up on May 20. Its first race, in 2021, included purse money totaling around $865,000, and Brown said it’s not uncommon for races to include 1,000 horses at the facility. “When you feel the ground shake under you, it’s just really cool,” she said of their live events.
For horse betting, you don’t have to be a race expert to participate – there are self betting machines for those who’d like to do it themselves, and staff are available to help place bets, as well. Similar to casinos, The Derby Club offers players’ cards and special promotions and giveaways, as well. Unlike local casinos, the club is located in Riverton and the adjacent Starting Gate serves alcoholic beverages.
Brown, who has worked in the industry for years, said most such licensed facilities are owned by out-of-state entities, like Vegas businesses, with the profits funneled back to Nevada. But she said 307 Horse Racing is committed to Wyoming; a lot of the club’s special promotions involve gift cards to local businesses, for instance, and when local charities ask for donations, 307 Horse Racing is all ears. “We want to be visible. We want to give back to the employees and the community,” noted Brown.
The Derby Club is open 365 days a year – although they might open a bit later on Christmas. Sunday through Thursday, its doors are open from 10 a.m. to midnight, and on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
In addition to the new Riverton location, 307 Horse Racing has sites in Gillette, Sheridan, Casper, Rollins, Cheyenne, and later this month, a new location in Douglas. “I’m thrilled to be here,” Brown said of the Riverton club. “We love the community … We have amazing staff in here.”
To learn more about 307 Horse Racing, view race schedules and more, visit 307horseracing.com.