Commission Meets Today to Discuss Wyoming’s Legal Sports Betting Framework
- Wyoming legalized sports betting in the early spring of 2021
- HB 133 became law after a second push by Rep. Tom Walters
- The online-only bill will be 18+
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HB 133 was initially voted down in the Wyoming House, only to be reconsidered the next day and earn a majority vote. Soon after, the Senate quickly agreed to the provisions of the bill, and Governor Mark Gordon signed HB 133 into law on April 5, 2021. Now, the rules need to be finalized by the Wyoming Gaming Commission.
What Does HB 133 Allow?
HB 133 was sponsored by Rep. Tom Walters (R), who has been trying to pass some form of legal sports betting framework for two sessions of the Wyoming Legislature. Now, he’s been successful in legalizing both DFS and sports wagering platforms. The bill:
- Will allow for online-only sports betting and DFS
- Sets a tax of 10% on gaming revenue, to go to the WY General Fund and problem gambling initiatives
- Sets the minimum age for sports wagering at 18, one of only a handful of states not requiring bettors to be 21 and over
Estimates suggest that about $500 million will be wagered per annum in the Cowboy State, which sounds like a large figure until you consider that New Jersey bettors wagered a staggering $6 billion in 2020. Still, for a state with the population of Wyoming, taxing that handle instead of allowing the money to go to illegal/offshore operators would be a simple way to pull money back into the state.
Bill Almost Didn’t Make It Through House
The bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Jeff Wasserburger (R), was quoted by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle as saying “(HB 133)’s not going to solve all the issues that we’re seeing in the mineral industry, that’s for sure (…) But it’s going to help a little bit.” The senator refers to concerns that other industries vital to the Wyoming economy, like the mineral industry, took a massive hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. General Funds of states all over the country experienced a considerable strain due to the crisis, so naturally, recouping some funds by legalizing and taxing sports betting would be considered as things start to finally settle.
However, earlier this year, the Wyoming House almost didn’t pass HB 133. The bill got a second chance after another of the bill’s co-sponsors asked for reconsideration. From Representative Landon Brown (R):
I asked for a reconsideration by Rep. Clifford and the entire Democrat caucus if we made the effort to ensure that (tribal) concerns were brought forward in the Senate
Essentially, there was pushback because there wasn’t enough consideration of the federally recognized tribes in the area already conducting legal gambling according to their own compacts. With the finalized text of the law, tribes as well will be allowed to offer online sports betting platforms.
Final Steps to Wyoming Sports Betting
What’s next? The Wyoming Gaming Commission meets on June 8th to discuss how to move forward with sports wagers as legalized by the now-law HB 133. That means setting up license requirements, finalizing fees, and beginning the process of accepting licenses from qualified operators. Who will be qualified? According to the text of the law:
The commission shall issue a permit to a sports wagering vendor that is currently operating in good standing in a similar role in at least three (3) jurisdictions in the United States under a state regulatory structure.
Therefore, the Wyoming online market will be populated by well-established operators who are already offering services in at least three states, closing out smaller or less-established bookmakers from the market. The rules are expected to be finalized soon, with a set date of September 1st to launch.
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Chris Altman is a traveling writer and content specialist covering everything from betting to plane crashes. He has been working in sports betting, specifically legislation for some time now, covering industry developments and the legal landscape of sportsbooks in the U.S. Chris is also a published short story writer and zine editor. Email: [email protected]