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Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission orders temporary halt to historic horse racing terminals use


CASPER, Wyoming — The Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission has ordered a temporary halt to the use of historic horse racing terminals throughout the state because of a state attorney general's opinion that the machines don't conform with state law.

The terminals at bars and off-track betting sites will go dark at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, according to the commission's order passed at a regularly scheduled meeting Friday in Casper.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1FOsYLc ) that the commission has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday to discuss the issue further, including ways to make the terminals conform to state law.

The terminals are largely credited in revitalizing live horse racing in Wyoming, which had been on the decline. This year, live races were well-attended throughout the state. In Casper, for instance, there have been live horse races for the first time since 1998.

The Wyoming Legislature passed a law in 2013 that legalized the terminals, giving portions of proceeds to cities, towns and counties.

From Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, cities and counties received nearly $2.5 million from proceeds of the terminals, according to data provided by the commission.

Horse breeders and other people who are involved in the terminal business were shocked by the commission's decision. Many people at the meeting had not read the attorney general's opinion.

Eugene Joyce, president of Wyoming Horse Racing, which has live and historic horse racing, told commissioners he wished they would have given more than two days' notice.

Joyce knew the attorney general's office was working on a legal opinion, he said. People in the horse racing business had been waiting for a decision for six months. He wished the commission would have given companies like his more time to plan.

"Effective Monday, our employees don't know where their next paycheck is coming from, in this economy," he said.

Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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