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Casper approves giving Bootlegger Liquor’s license to Wyoming Downs

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CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council voted 8-0 on Tuesday, October 5 in favor of authorizing the transfer of control of Retail Liquor License No. 21 from Wyoming Bootlegger Liquor to Wyoming Downs. Council member Amber Pollock recused herself ahead of the vote.

Wyoming Bootlegger Liquor is going out of business and the retail liquor license it controls will be transferred to Wyoming Downs for use at the gaming company’s “Blue Roof” location at the former Sidelines Bar & Grill, located at 1121 Wilkins Circle.

Vice Mayor Ray Pacheco said that he was pleased to hear that the liquor license was being transferred to a business that will put it to use rather than having the license sit unused or “parked.”

Wyoming Downs had previously requested a bar and grill license for the “Blue Roof” location, but the city council rejected that request in August.

That request was different from what was considered on Tuesday. Authorizing a transfer of control of a liquor license means the city council is giving its stamp of approval of an agreement between two private entities in regard to a license that has already been issued by the city. The bar and grill license requests that were considered over the summer were for licenses that were not held by any business at the time.

With the city only able to offer a limited number of bar and grill licenses based on a population formula under Wyoming law, some on the council argued that Wyoming Downs should not be given a bar and grill license because they thought the company could operate successfully under a restaurant liquor license.

The retail liquor license that Wyoming Downs will control will give it greater flexibility than the bar and grill license would have provided.

Council member Bruce Knell, who had been vocal in suggesting the council reject Wyoming Downs’s request for a bar and grill license, said on Tuesday that he was pleased to see that the business found another way to get its hands on a license.

“I appreciate the ingenuity and going out and figuring it out,” Knell said.

When Wyoming Downs requested the bar and grill license this summer, Eric Nelson with Wyoming Downs told the council that the company expected to generate about $275,000 less in tax revenues if the Blue Roof had only a restaurant liquor license instead of a bar and grill license.

In estimating the amount of tax revenue that the Wyoming Downs Blue Roof location would generate, Nelson told the city council in August that the company expected to generate about $125,000 per year through the new sports wagering lounge at the former Sidelines Bar and Grill location.

With a bar and grill license, Nelson said Wyoming Downs expected that that tax revenue figure would jump to $400,000. Wyoming Downs has signed a contract with BetMGM to offer mobile sports wagering, taking advantage of a new law legalizing online sports wagering and fantasy sports contests in Wyoming. The new law will open a market that the Wyoming Gaming Commission estimates could be around $449 million.

There are a variety of liquor licenses available to businesses in Casper and each comes with its own restrictions. Retail liquor licenses offer businesses the greatest flexibility.

Retail liquor licenses allow a business to operate a walk-up bar and allow sales for off-premise consumption of alcohol products. These licenses can be jointly held with other license types.

Retail liquor licenses allow businesses to sell any type of legal alcoholic product and have no requirement that the businesses also sell food.

Bar and grill licenses, on the other hand, require that 60% of the business’s sales come from food rather than alcohol. While bar and grill licenses also allow businesses to sell beer, wine and hard liquor and allow walk-up bars, sales cannot include packaged liquor for off-premise consumption.

Restaurant liquor licenses don’t allow a business to operate a walk-up bar and require that 60% of sales come from food rather than alcohol. Unlike bar and grill licenses, restaurant liquor licenses don’t allow alcohol sales to continue after full food service has ended.

There are four other types of liquor permits: microbrewery permits, winery permits, satellite permits and resort liquor license permits.

Microbrewery permits are for the sale of malt beverages only and winery permits only allow for the sale of wine. These permits are available to businesses which make their own products. In other respects, these permits are largely similar to retail liquor license permits, with the caveat that there are limits on how much alcohol can be sold for off-premise consumption.

Satellite permits are available to businesses which manufacture their own products that want to serve that alcohol at another location, sometimes referred to as a “tasting room.”

Resort liquor licenses are available to hotels and are similar to full retail liquor licenses with the exception that they don’t allow for the sale of package liquor.

The number of liquor licenses available in Casper is determined by state statute and the city’s population. Casper can have:

  • Up to 36 retail liquor licenses
  • Up to 14 bar and grills licenses
  • Unlimited restaurant liquor licenses
  • 36 microbrewery or winery permits
  • Unlimited resort liquor licenses

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