In Quick Turnaround Wyoming Governor Signs Sports Wagering Into Law
- Wyoming becomes the first state to “officially” legalize sports wagering in 2021
- September & football season ambitious but hopeful date to kick-off betting in the state
- Pressure from neighboring Mountain states among motivators for overnight turnaround
Headlines for Wyoming sports legalized sports wagering will be featured upon two issues.
As the first US state to be signed into law in 2021 joining many other successful states enjoying a new path into legalized sports betting. Technically, South Dakota passed their bill through their governor’s signature into law earlier in March however the official signing was registered in a referendum by voters in November 2020.
The other storied headline will be how quickly legislators in the Equality State changed their minds after seemingly turning down the opportunity only a few weeks ago. After two days of hot debate in March where funds should be dispersed and issues involving problem gambling, the Wyoming House shockingly voted down HB 133 in a 28-33 vote.
It’s Official Now
On Monday Governor Mark Gordon made it official, signing House Bill 133. The new law will accommodate “online wagering” within Wyoming, and not allowing for onsite retail in South Dakota, joining Tennessee in the mobile wagering-only format. A few other smaller US states are also involved in current discussions reviewing that option.
While no firm starting date has been announced as yet, Wyoming is targeting the beginning of both the NFL and NCAA football season as an anticipated launching point. The Wyoming Gaming Commission has been assigned to set rules by September 1, making it possible but still an ambitious beginning date.
The amended version of HB 133 was passed by the Wyoming Senate by an enthusiastic 24-5-1 vote.
The Wyoming Rules
Wyoming is smaller in population with only 580,000 people and without an ongoing casino base, setting it up for the online wagering format and a different type of competitive operator market. Among their new laws is a requirement for a minimum of five licenses to be issued without a maximum set. In comparison to other states, their $25,000 application fee and $100,000 license fee set for five years are relatively low.
Under Wyoming law, all professional, college, and Olympic sports will be included for wagering. There will be a 10% tax on gross gaming revenue (GGR). Wyoming will also become the fifth US jurisdiction to establish a legal wagering age of 18 (not 21). The others in the group include Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Washington DC. All are smaller populated areas.
It is anticipated that DraftKings Sportsbook will be the first in line to apply for a license in Wyoming. Their Director of Legal and Government Affairs, Chris Cipolla was quite visible earlier testifying in support of HB 133. Other major sportsbook operators expected to apply to include BetMGM, FanDuel, PointsBet, theScore, and Barstool Sportsbook.
Why Wyoming Changed Their Mind
Their surrounding Mountain border states were an obvious motivator for state legislators to experience a sudden change of heart, sending an approval toward the governor’s desk.
Colorado has been proudly posting headlines of sports wagering success since their debut last May with record handle and revenue posted over the past two months. Montana offers sports wagering via kiosk only at thousands of lottery locations spread throughout the state.
South Dakota voters approved a referendum through the vote and are expected to begin in September. A serious discussion has begun in Nebraska as well. Only North Dakota has voted down approval for legislation, at least temporarily.
But the real reason for the go-ahead is a state desperately needing resources like so many others reeling from the effects of COVID-19. Analysts project opportunities of anywhere from $2.2 million to $4.7 million in ancillary annual revenue for Wyoming. During earlier debates, both sides agreed that online gambling is already taking place within the state. An important lost opportunity is necessary to capitalize upon.
Sen Drew Perkins R-Casper mentioned in a recent legislative session:
This is already happening both legally and illegally. A big part of this bill is not necessarily to create a hammer to go after those who are doing it illegally, but more to create a more protected and regulated environment, so when (bettors) place the bet and they win, their bets are paid.
Once the NFL and NCAA College Football season begin later this year the next likely headlines for Wyoming will be announcing their record monthly handle and revenue numbers through December.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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