Wyoming sports betting went live Wednesday, with BetMGM and DraftKings becoming the first mobile operators to kickstart the smallest industry of the nation.
The announcement of the launch came following a special meeting of the Wyoming Gaming Commission that ended at 2 p.m. M.T. The meeting unanimously concluded that BetMGM and DraftKings could launch in the state with immediate effect. Both operators went live in less than three hours following the announcement before 5 p.m. local time.
The decision makes Wyoming the first state to pass a sports betting bill and launch in the industry in 2021. It also makes the Cowboy State the first digital-only industry in 2021, and the second overall in the United States.
What Did Happen on Wednesday?
During the Wyoming Gaming Commission’s special meeting, held virtually, WGC Special Project Manager David Carpenter said, “As soon as I send out these emails with mobile licenses and license numbers, they are approved and prepared to go live, and effective the close of this meeting, they’re ready and able to launch.”
The same official said the list of available wagers is pretty comprehensive of all sports, and operators can seek other events like esports as well.
BetMGM and DraftKings Take Beginner’s Advantage
Within an hour or so after the regulator meeting, DraftKings went live in its 13th state, and BetMGM followed its biggest rival – in the state as well as in the nation – soon after.
DraftKings co-founder and President Matt Kalish said the company is excited that Wyoming sports bettors can now experience “the highly accessible and immersive fan experience” along with unparalleled consumer protections that it offers to millions of sports fans.
BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt also had reasons for being “ecstatic” as one of the first mobile operators to launch in Cowboy State, just in time for the NFL regular season. He said Wyoming is an important state for the company, which continues to expand MGM’s footprint in the west. Overall, it’s the 14th state where BetMGM now goes live. Greenblatt expressed optimism that Wyoming sports fans would enjoy the BetMGM experience.
Wyoming Leads the NFL Race
Wyoming is among those states aiming to go live by or before the arrival of the NFL season on Sept. 9. Meanwhile, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, and Washington are planning to launch their sports betting industries to meet one of the most lucrative sports betting events in the U.S.
While South Dakota may go live with the retail industry by the next week, Arizona sports betting is all set to launch its industry on Sept. 9 – if a court ruling does not hamper the launch. Currently, two lawsuits are seeking to prevent the Copper State from launching its industry, which has already approved 18 out of 20 licensees to meet the deadline.
Nine states have legalized sports betting but have yet to launch the industry.
What About FanDuel or Other Operators?
The WGC is required to allow at least five sports betting licenses if other operators are able to qualify it. Besides BetMGM and DraftKings, FanDuel, Penn National Gaming, PointsBet, and SuperBook Sports participated in a stakeholder meeting. FanDuel PNG’s Barstool Sportsbook also sent letters of intent to the regulatory authority.
The WGC has not confirmed regarding approval of other operators. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 5. However, the commission president Bob Davis said he expects several special meetings before that.
How Have We Reached Here?
Wyoming sports betting has passed through dramatic phases before witnessing the light of the day. In March, the state’s House initially voted down HB 133, which legalized online sports betting. Then, a day later, the House approved the bill after reconsidering it.
Less than a month later, the upper chamber of the state approved the bill, allowing Gov. Mark Gordon to sign it into law April 6.
During the legislative process, the lawmakers had said that they’re looking for a fall launch, pushing the reluctant WGC Executive Director Charles Moore to take up the challenge.
The WGC borrowed liberally from the other legal sports betting states, including Tennessee – the only other mobile-only sports betting state before Wyoming.
The sports betting rules were finalized Aug. 2, and the commission set Wednesday’s special meeting to allow at least its first sports betting to kick off the industry Sept. 1.
Wyoming is the smallest state in the nation, with just under 600,000 residents, and the only second U.S. state with a mobile-only industry. Tennessee was the first digital-only sports betting industry when it launched last November.