Simulcast Wagering up Big in Arizona

Arizona DownsThe new Arizona Downs’ off-track-betting operation triggered a 25-percent surge in simulcast wagering in the greater Prescott market for August, the facility’s first full month in business, over the same time frame in 2017, according to the state’s racing commission.

Arizona Downs brought back wagering on racetracks across the country to the site of the old Yavapai Downs on July 13. The track, which last ran in 2010, was purchased in January by J&J Equine Enterprises LLC, an entity formed by brothers and Phoenix-based JACOR Partners principals Tom, Dave and Mike Auther and their partner Joe Jackson, along with longtime racing executive Corey Johnsen. Renamed Arizona Downs, the track is undergoing extensive renovation and will open for live Thoroughbred and quarter-horse racing in 2019 with a meet running Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Arizona Downs also has received approval from regulatory authorities to open two more off-track-betting facilities in the state. The Route 66 icon Museum Club, an 80-year mainstay in Flagstaff, and Bull Shooters, the premier location for darts and billiards in Phoenix, are both scheduled to open in October.

“Our goal has been to generate additional revenue and purses for Arizona horsemen, and our first few months in Prescott have illustrated the great potential for the state,” said Arizona Downs general manager Ann McGovern. “We’re excited to expand our OTB footprint to provide easy access to this year-round betting and entertainment option in the region. Eight years is a long time to be closed, and we’re confident that the early momentum of our simulcasting operation will steamroll with the lead-up to the Breeders’ Cup in November, the road to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown, and of course the long-awaited resumption of live racing here next May.”

Arizona Downs’ simulcast room is on the first floor of the grandstand, featuring more than 40 television monitors, both mutuel clerks and self-bet machines and with easy access to food and beverage service. The facility is open seven days a week beginning at 9 a.m. MST. Admission and parking are free.

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Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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