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Off-track betting is not popular in the Verde Valley, according to the owner of Zoomer’s, a Cottonwood bar where the service is offered.

 “If there is a demand for off-track betting, it would be packed,”

Zoomer’s owner Zane Simmons

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Off-track betting is not popular in the Verde Valley, according to the owner of Zoomer’s, a Cottonwood bar where the service is offered.

“If there is a demand for off-track betting, it would be packed,” Zoomer’s owner Zane Simmons said.

Sedona residents aren’t driving down to Cottonwood to bet, according to Simmons. He could only think of two people from Sedona who visit Zoomer’s to bet.

On a Wednesday afternoon, Simmons sat in the sports bar he’s owned for six years. Only four people were there to bet on the races.

Turf Paradise operates off-track betting in the state of Arizona and is trying to add a betting parlor in Sedona.

Sedona City Council will vote on whether to allow the practice in February.

Simmons said he doesn’t wish the burden off-track betting has brought him upon anyone.

“The establishment doesn’t benefit hardly at all,” Simmons said.

Turf Paradise doesn’t pay Zoomer’s for the space used inside the bar, electricity or give the bar a cut of the earnings, according to Simmons. Zoomer’s makes nothing off the betting.

In fact, Simmons said, Zoomer’s bought the big screen televisions the races are broadcast on. Turf Paradise provided standard-size televisions.

In the three years Zoomer’s has offered off-track betting, there have been few instances where it has filled the house.

“You get maybe three good days out of the year,” Simmons said.

The Triple Crown races bring more race fans to the bar.

“We do OK on the three big races,” Simmons said.

The rest of the year, Simmons said it’s hard to get bettors to spend money in his establishment where he serves food and drinks.

Simmons estimates betting might generate 1 percent of his business.

“They [bettors] have to spend $5 and sometimes it’s a fight,” Simmons said.

Hanging by the wager counter, a sign tells betters they have to spend a minimum of $5 on food or drink while betting. That’s how Zoomer’s makes its money.

While $5 doesn’t seem like much when hundreds are being staked on horses, Simmons said some people get angry when told the rule.

Buff Edwards, on the other hand, doesn’t mind.

Edwards is a regular bettor at Zoomer’s. He doesn’t think $5 is that much and said he doesn’t mind spending it on the great food.

Since Turf Paradise started operating betting, Edwards has been a regular at Zoomer’s.

Edwards spends two to three hours in Zoomer’s four days a week.

“I’ve always liked to bet the horses, look at the horses, watch the horses,” Edwards said.

Edwards is from Lake Montezuma but Simmons said most of the bar’s customers are from Cottonwood.

Simmons decided to offer off-track betting to encourage people to visit the bar during the day. The lunch crowd is slow, Simmons said, and he thought the betting scene could change that.

If lunch patrons began packing Zoomer’s, Simmons said he wouldn’t mind getting rid of the betting altogether.


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