• No Wyoming sports betting bills were introduced during the state’s 2019 legislative session.
  • The Joint Committee of Travel, Recreation, and Cultural Resources originally passed on the opportunity to create a bill for a regulated gambling commission in Wyoming.
  • The newest attempt to create a gambling commission would set the Pari-mutuel Commission in charge of all gaming oversight.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The possibility of creating a Wyoming gaming commission to regulate the entire gambling industry in the state seemed dead in the water just a few weeks ago.

But, in a motion made by Senator Ogden Driskill on Monday, Driskill moved to create a task force to study expanding the duties of Pari-Mutuel Commission to include all forms of gambling, including the potential for sports betting.

The idea has been opposed by lobbyists in the skill gaming industry due to the fact that they feel as if one competitor would be regulating the other. At this time, the Pari-Mutuel Commission only has six staff members and their sole responsibility only covers horse racing.

However, the need for stronger regulations and greater enforcement over gambling in Wyoming is a key concern for lawmakers.

According to a report made in the Star Tribune, there are an estimated 400 gambling machines operating in Wyoming right now that are untaxed and unregulated. This is causing the state to miss out on more than $4 million in taxable revenue.

“My prediction is we’re going to come back next year with nothing passed, and we’re going to be dealing with something between 800 and 1,200 machines,” said Driskell. “It’s getting harder and harder to slow that down.”

The current Wyoming gambling laws leave a lot of room for interpretation. Under the current law, any wagering game is permissible as long as it is part of a “social gathering.” This makes enforcing the law all the more difficult, and only stresses the need for a gambling commission.

What About Sports Betting in Wyoming?

The possibility of having legal sports betting in Wyoming is now possible since the federal ban on sports betting was lifted in May of 2018. However, no Wyoming sports betting bills were introduced in the state’s 2019 legislative session.

The Wyoming legislature adjourned this year on February 27, 2019, and will only be in session for 20 days next year.

The state’s ability to pass a sports betting bill is all the more difficult with a lack of oversight and a small window to get any measures passed in time.

One way that sports betting in Wyoming could come into fruition is through tribal casinos. But, implementing new regulations or opening up the activity state-wide could take that possibility away.

“The biggest threat (to the tribes) is regulated gambling,” said Driskell. “They’ve got a protected gig right now. The feds have said they can do whatever they want and their biggest threat is us.”

If Wyoming lawmakers are unable to create a gambling commission or introduce new laws that clarify which wagering games are allowed, The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes could choose to take the route of tribes in New Mexico who opened sportsbooks without the need for new legislation.

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