Wyoming Online Casino Bill Dead Before House Introduction

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A bill aiming to introduce online casinos in Wyoming failed to pass the vote for a Senate discussion this week.

HB120 was sponsored by Robert Davis (R-47). In a Thursday session as the Wyoming Capitol in Cheyenne on Thursday, lawmakers voted 25 to 36 against discussing the bill in the legislature.

Despite being the smallest state by population, lawmakers in the state work fast and efficiently. When sports betting in Wyoming was legalized in February 2021, the first legal bet was placed just seven months later in September.

Next year, things could be different. In a 2020 short session, lawmakers rejected the idea of online sports betting. But in 2021, a reevaluated proposal made it through during a longer session.

Regulator Needs More Time

Davis pitched online casinos in Wyoming as a way to obtain tax dollars from sports betting that is already going on at offshore casinos.

He stressed the enhanced responsible gambling practices and regulations at legal sportsbooks, compared to offshore sites.

It would have given five online casino permits at the cost of $100,000 per license. It would have taxed online casino operators at a flat 10% of revenues, with $300,000 of that marked for problem gambling prevention and treatment programs.

“This bill does several important things. It begins to eradicate the illegal iGaming market right here in Wyoming. That activity is taking place without any protections for our citizens who are playing these games,” Davis said.

“If we can install the guardrails to do this, it will roll out just like our sports wagering has.”

However, other Representatives said that more preparations were needed, with more research and data into problem gambling rates.

Rep. John Winter (R-28) said that Wyoming Gaming Commission (WGC) members had privately told him their concerns about online casinos.

“It’s my understanding that the gaming commission wants to shut this down,” Winter said. “They think it’s going too fast and they’re concerned about the youngsters that have telephones that can do this gaming.”

Davis previously chaired the WGC for several years.

He said that regulators had been considering online casinos since at least when he left the position in 2020.

“As far as the gaming commission stance, three years ago, when I served on the commission, this was on their radar,” he said.

Come Back Next Year?

The 2025 legislative session in Wyoming will be a longer one, meaning any bill that passes committees can see full discussion without needing a vote.

Even if the vote had passed, the House would have had only two weeks to discuss and vote again before a Senate vote deadline on March 8.

Currently, six states have legal online casino gaming. That includes online casinos in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, West Virginia and Michigan. Rhode Island has legalized, but yet to launch.

Not a single new state launched online casinos in 2023, compared to half a dozen new sports betting markets. So, the chances in the most sparsely populated state were never great.

However, with more discussion, it is highly probable at least some kind of proposal will return next year.

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