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Reversing a current nationwide trend among states in the US and in a somewhat surprise, Wyoming has at least temporarily put a hold on advancing any plans to legalize online wagering.
On Tuesday, the Wyoming House of Representatives defeated House Bill 133 on a third reading by a 28-32 vote during their floor session. The bill would have confirmed legalizing online sports wagering plus fantasy sports contests in the state.
The plans to bring online sports wagering and DFW to Wyoming could have provided regulation to the market estimated as high as $450 million per year by the Wyoming Gaming Commission. The crux of the defeat was attested to some legislators arguing that it would severely damage many people’s lives.
HB 133 would have offered a unique convenience for Wyoming residents in that multiple forms of payment would be accepted via mobile and internet platforms. Among them proposed included cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, money orders, personal checks, and prepaid vouchers along with standard credit cards and debit cards used by many other US for sports wagering.
Wyoming was planning to receive a 10% portion from all global gaming revenue (GGR) accrued from operators through the proposal. Sports bettors in Wyoming would have obtained membership access to any chosen sportsbook operator being within the geofencing state border and be at least 18 years of age. Most other states permitting sports wagering limit the age to 21 or older.
All sporting events including prop betting were planned to be open for wagering except wagering on events where athletes are under 18 years of age.
As part of the process, Wyoming’s Northern Arapaho tribe was planning to build sportsbooks within its three casinos but limit to in-person wagering.
The bill required the Wyoming commission to issue permits to eligible applicants that operate in at least five other jurisdictions. That would open the door for the largest and most popular sportsbook operators including DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM to receive likely acceptance.
An interesting rule for eSports and sports betting or one that was not planned to be included was any restriction on college wagering within the state. Unlike restrictions in several other US states that have legislated sports wagering, potential wagering for the University of Wyoming football and basketball teams would have been allowed.
Several legislators voting upon HB 133 expressed strong opposition to the measure and voiced their opinions going forward.
Rep. Evan Simpson (Lincoln County) was very vocal in saying:
This particular fun activity has the potential of destroying a lot of lives. Addictions are real and they will happen if we pass this bill. Betting on sporting events is not an activity that doesn’t have consequences for others. It will damage lives and damage families.
Rep. Mark Jennings (Sheridan County) said that online gambling is a vice, and it is the duty of the legislature helping to protect against vices. He quoted Section 20 of the Wyoming Constitution within making his comments:
We swore an oath to this. I, for one take that oath very seriously. I ask my colleagues to think about that family three houses down where you know there is already a propensity toward that sort of thing. Just because we pass a law doesn’t make it moral.
There were dissenting opinions among the legislative group that did support HB 133 and will likely continue their pursuit to support online sports wagering for Wyoming.
House Majority Whip Jared Olsen (Laramie County) also read from the Wyoming Constitution in making his point in favor of sports wagering for the state. “Absolute, arbitrary power over the lives, liberty, and property of free men exists nowhere in a republic, not even in the largest majority.”
Olsen said he didn’t believe the legislature’s role was to regulate the lives of citizens. He pointed out that people in Wyoming are already illegally participating in online sports wagering. That by passing this legislation would allow for the regulation of online sports wagering to set proper parameters “that keep consumers safe”.
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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.
Email: [email protected]
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