Wyoming Sports Betting Bill Gets Legislature Approval

Closeup of Man Making Sports Bets on His Phone
A bill that would legalize Wyoming sports betting has been approved by the state Legislature and will now head to the office of Gov. Mark Gordon for final consideration.

House Bill no.133 directs the Wyoming Gaming Commission to regulate legal sports betting. After barely making out of the House earlier this month on a 32-28 vote, it gained the final approval from the Wyoming legislature via 24-5 vote. Under the approval, the Commission has until September 1st to promulgate the rules and regulations covering the industry.

Per Sen. Jeff Wasserburger, co-sponsor of the bill:

“(The bill) tries to stop the black market that is taking place now, put consumer protections into the bill, and then allow people in Wyoming … to place bets. Then it has a 10% tax on that bet.”

Protecting Customers

Proponents of the bill argue that since sports betting is already happening in Wyoming via unregulated online websites and betting apps, state officials might as well provide oversight over the industry to protect customers. The proposal also outlines the fees for operators who wish to engage in legal Wyoming sports betting activities, including a 10% tax revenue from online sports bets made.

Although the Legislative Service Office said that it was tricky to estimate how much the 10% remittance of gaming revenue could bring to the state, the Wyoming Gaming Commission estimates that the industry could be worth more than $449M in total sports bets per year which would mean some $500,000 in tax revenues for the state.

Narrowly Advancing in the House

After it was initially defeated, the HB 133 narrowly advanced in the House on a reconsideration vote. House lawmakers had a lengthy debate on the proposal, with opponents raising concerns about gambling addiction that might accompany the legalization of sports betting. The legislation would direct $300,000 of state tax revenue generated from legal Wyoming sports betting to the Department of Health to provide resources for the treatment of gambling addiction.

With the bill clearing the House and Senate, it will now head to the desk of Gov. Gordon. Gordon will have three days to either sign the bill into law or return it to the legislature with his veto or it will pass into a bill without his signature. The Republican governor has not taken a firm position on the wagering bill which was championed by fellow GOP policymakers.

Wyoming Online Sports Betting Bill Voted Down by Legislators

Person Browsing a Sports Betting Site on a Tablet
The Wyoming House of Representatives rejected a bill which would have legalized online sports betting in the state.

By a vote of 28-32 on the third reading during their March 9th session, the House defeated House Bill 133 based on ethical grounds. Sponsored by six representatives and two senators, the bill progressed through the House Committee last week before making it to the floor.

Could Damage People’s Lives

The House acknowledged that Wyoming online sports betting could have created a $449M market, they argued that the legalization of online sports betting could damage people’s lives. Rep. Evan Simpson of Lincoln County said that addictions will happen if the bill is passed and gambling addiction damages not only lives but also families.

Sheridan County Rep. Mark Jenings meanwhile, contended that online sports betting is a vice and it is the House’s constitutional duty to protect its constituents against vices. Sheridan referenced Section 20 of the Wyoming Constitution for his argument. Meanwhile, Fremont’s Rep. Andi Clifford said that she opposed the bill because representatives from the Eastern Shoshone Tribe were not included during the discussions.

House Bill 133

The Wyoming Gaming Commission was supposed to regulate Wyoming online sports betting. Only online gambling was to be legalized not only to bring people out of the unregulated online sports betting market but also to eliminate in-person sports wagering that involves bookkeepers in Wyoming.

House Bill 133 would have required sports betting operators to remit 10% of their online sports wagering revenues to the state. Before the bill was defeated, the legislators considered an amendment that would have directed the state’s collections to the state’s School Foundation Program instead of the General Fund. That proposal would’ve helped solve the structural deficit for education funding.