And They’re Off and Running on Video at the Cow Palace Inn

Bruce Seymore Addresses Lamar City Council

Bruce Seymore Addresses Lamar City Council

Off the track betting is coming to Lamar and should be ready to go by mid May.  Lamar businesswoman, Becky Schwartz will operate the franchise from the Rodeway Cow Palace Inn, according to motel owner, Doug Thrall.  The operation will be set up in the motel and the public will be able to watch simulcast horse and dog racing from video monitors in the lounge and the inner courtyard.  Thrall detailed some of the general aspects of the new venture for the Lamar City Council during their bi-monthly meeting, Monday, March 23.  Thrall was accompanied by Bruce Seymore, Executive Director of Colorado Operations for Mile High Racing and Entertainment.  Lamar will be the latest satellite city for the gambling group which is headquartered in Aurora at Arapahoe Park.

Doug Thrall How Cow Palace Fits Into the OTB Proposal

Doug Thrall How Cow Palace Fits Into the OTB Proposal

Thrall spoke first, noting that his role will be to host the video simulcasts in his restaurant and lounge and provide an access for placing bets.  “I didn’t realize how many horse people were in southeastern Colorado and western Kansas and the more I researched this over the past year, the more I saw how many people get involved in big time horse racing,” he explained.  “I think we can increase revenue in Lamar from this venture.  On my part, we’ll rent rooms and sell drinks and meals at the motel during the races and perhaps we can involve local merchants in promotions for some of the more notable races,” he stated.

Thrall and Becky Schwartz at Council Meeting

Thrall and Becky Schwartz at Council Meeting

Seymore said his organization’s goal is to be a good neighbor and drive business for his operation.  He provided some background on live racing, stating that it’s been in Colorado since 1949.  His company now has 11 (OTB’s) Off Track Betting sites in operation which covers the state.  It has satellite casino interests in Rhode Island and Mississippi in addition to Arapaho Park.  Seymore explained that simulcast racing will be shown at the Cow Palace Inn, “There is a race in say, California, and we show it on television and you’re allowed to wager on it, just as if you were in California watching the race in person.”

He said he looked at Holly, Colorado first, but decided Lamar would be a better fit once he became involved with the Two Shot Goose Hunt where he met with Becky Schwartz and developed the idea of setting up in Lamar.  “Lamar would be good because of the population of horses and horse players in New Mexico and Kansas.  There are three trainers that live right across the border in Kansas that race at Arapaho.  There are match races that are going on in your area.  There’s an interest there for quarter horse racing and there are a great many people around Holly that still are active in racing,” he told the council.

He explained how the state oversees the racing operation for ventures like his.  “I am heavily regulated by the racing commission which is a part of the Department of Revenue.  Some people feel there is some form of illegal activity with this when we start a new operation, and that’s not what we are.”  He said he was open to any questions from the council or audience on how the operation works, noting that Becky Schwartz will be his partner in the venture, which is franchised out to people who are local in the communities.  He said his group is expanding and expects to have another opening in Cripple Creek by the beginning of April.  “Our time frame for opening up in Lamar is ASAP,” he stated, adding, “In this particular scene there is nothing else except wagering on horse and dog racing.  That’s all it’s going to be.  No casino games, no card games or card rooms, nothing like that.”

He explained that pari-mutuel machines will be set up in the Cow Palace Inn.  Seymore felt that with the racing and the motel, Lamar could become a weekend destination site for the region and people must be at least 18 in order to wager.  He added that tickets will be dispensed by machine, in answer to a question from City Attorney, Garth Neischburg, but human tellers will also be an option along with self-service machines.  Schwartz told the council that the operation would be open to start perhaps Thursday through Sunday with a possibility of four persons hired to operate the facility.  The only revenue to the city, he said, will be extra revenue from sales at the Cow Palace Inn.  Tax rates are provided by the host race site, the state from which the signal originates.  Seymore’s operation pays taxes on the take out from the races as stipulated by the host state with about half his pay out going to the host state.

Seymore said there will be no limits on the betting, “My motto is the more you bet, the more you win, but everything that I do is cash,” in answer to the question about credit card betting.  There will be an ATM set up at the Cow Palace once the project gets underway.  Both Mayor Roger Stagner and attorney Neischburg said the operation has been reviewed from a local aspect and there are no city ordinances or zoning ordinance for the City of Lamar which prohibits the establishment of the racing venue.  Seymore said his one hold up right now is having the phone company set up phone lines and installing a security system for cameras for patrons and for the handling of the cash generated by the betting. “I don’t see any reason why we won’t be ready for Derby Day, hopefully sooner,” he told the council.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinesscommunityEconomyEmploymentEntertainmentFeaturedHollyLamarProwers CountyRecreationSportsTourism


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