Wyoming sports betting caught a second wind last week.
State representatives originally voted against HB 133 on March 9, failing 32-28. The next day, a reconsideration motion passed by the same 32-28 vote and the bill received approval by the same count.
The original ‘no’ vote came because of concerns the state’s tribes weren’t considered, according to the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Landon Brown:
“I asked for a reconsideration by Rep. Clifford and the entire Democrat caucus if we made the effort to ensure that their concerns were brought forward in the Senate,” Brown said. “They agreed and we had the entire Democrat Caucus bring their votes forward because they saw the value of this bill becoming law. It’s all on my word that we work with the Tribes to ensure their voices are heard.”
The bill moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
What’s in the Wyoming sports betting bill?
HB 133 legalizes online sports betting in Wyoming for people ages 18 and up. The Wyoming Gaming Commission would regulate the practice, which could launch July 1.
Online sportsbook operators active in at least three other states would be eligible for entry into the Wyoming market. There would be a $100,000 new permit fee, with a $50,000 renewal fee. The proposed 10% tax rate goes to the state’s general fund, with a portion earmarked for county health programs.
“It’s not going to solve all the issues that we’re seeing in the mineral industry, that’s for sure,” co-sponsor Sen. Jeff Wasserburger told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in February about potential gaming revenues. “But it’s going to help a little bit.”
The Gaming Commission estimates Wyoming’s sports betting market could reach more than $449 million.
A second try in two years
Bill sponsor Rep. Tom Walters introduced a similar bill in 2020, which did not make it past its third reading.
This year’s attempt has a lower tax rate than last year’s proposed 16%, but a substantially higher license fee.
“[Opponents] felt that by providing a regulatory opportunity it was legalizing it,” Walters told LSR last year. “I somewhat disagree in saying it’s not illegal but it operates in an underground world because we don’t have a regulatory framework in place. With no regulatory framework, it will continue to not be monitored.”
After re-election in November, Walters made good on his commitment to another sports betting push.
Nearby states with legal sports betting
Several of Wyoming’s neighbors are open sports betting markets.
To the south, Colorado is a notable market, recording a $326.9 million handle in February. To the north, Montana legalized mobile betting through the Montana Lottery, with middling results to date.
South Dakota is finishing up legislation to legalize sports betting in the city of Deadwood after voters approved it in November.