Wyoming emerged as the sports betting surprise this spring.
Gov. Mark Gordon signed HB 133 into law on Monday.
“It’s something I’ve actually worked on not just this session, but I worked on it last session,” bill sponsor Rep. Tom Walters told Wyoming News Now. “So to see it pass ultimately is very exciting. I think it’s good for the people of Wyoming because it allows for this regulated market.”
Walters attempted similar sports betting legislation in 2020, but it failed to move past the House.
WY sports betting could launch as soon as September 1. Wyoming Gaming Commission Director Charles Moore agreed to the target date in a committee hearing but did express his hesitations of the quick turnaround of an initial July 1 suggestion.
Resurrected sports betting bill
On March 9, sports betting didn’t seem to have a shot in Wyoming. The House initially voted against moving HB 133 that day.
A day later, however, the chamber reconsidered the legislation and passed it, 32-4.
The bill faced little opposition aside from a fire alarm in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The full Senate backed the bill, 24-5.
House members quickly adopted the Senate’s small amendments to streamline gaming license applicants.
Wyoming sports betting landscape
The Wyoming Gaming Commission estimates the state will eventually see up to $449 million in bets each year. Wyoming has the fewest residents of any state in the US.
Operators will pay a $100,000 initial five-year license fee with a $50,000 renewal fee.
Wyoming will collect a 10% tax on gaming revenues. The first $300,000 each year is earmarked for gambling addiction treatment.
“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. “But it’s going to help a little bit.”
Experienced operators wanted
Sports betting in Wyoming will be online only, with at least five sportsbook operators expected.
Only sportsbooks operating in at least three other states will qualify for application.
A variety of operators qualify, including:
- Barstool Sportsbook
- William Hill
The Northern Arapaho Tribe announced it would add sports betting to its casinos last fall. It does not operate its casinos through a compact with the state but under U.S. Department of Interior authorization.
Other 2021 sports betting legislation
In November, voters in three states approved the idea of sports betting: Louisiana, Maryland, South Dakota.
South Dakota was the first state to act in 2021, with Gov. Kristi Noem signing a Deadwood sports betting bill into law. State voters approved legal sports betting in November 2020.
Maryland’s legislation is working its way through the Senate. Louisiana has yet to start its 2021 legislative session.
Georgia‘s sports betting legislation died Wednesday as its legislative session came to a close.
Kansas legislation could come back up, but stalled out last month over details. Arizona could find its way to the finish line but hasn’t budged in several weeks.
New York is in the midst of figuring out its sports betting future.