Wyoming may eventually have sports betting even though the state has not approved any legislation or formalities to launch the industry.
According to a statement released in this regard, the Northern Arapaho Tribe decided to add sports betting to its gaming operations throughout the Cowboy State. It should be noted that the state authorities have not approved any such bill to approve sports betting in Wyoming. The Northern Arapaho Tribe is benefiting from an ambiguous state law stating that the tribe operates its gaming under the US Department of the Interior that does not need state approval.
In a press release, the tribe said, “The Northern Arapaho Tribe conducts gaming under the authorization of the US Department of the Interior, and does not require the state approval for sports betting.” The business council of the tribe also stated that it will begin initiating formal steps to launch legal sports betting at the three tribal casinos in Wyoming, starting with the Wind River Casino.
The Northern Arapaho Business Council said, “With the addition of well-regulated sports betting, our Tribe has a significant opportunity to enhance the gaming experience at our facilities while expanding our revenue to help fund crucial programs and services for the Arapaho people.” The CEO of Wind River Hotel & Casino, Brian Van Enkenvoort, also suggested sports betting will create jobs for tribal establishments, bringing funds for their community members’ vital services.
While reiterating the need for the move, Enkenvoort said, “Well-regulated sports betting is a great way to make the gaming experience even better for the customers at the Wind River Hotel & Casino… This is truly an amenity that sports enthusiasts can’t find anywhere else in Wyoming.”
Gaming officials of Northern Arapaho have already begun drafting rules and regulations for the sports betting options for Wind River casino. However, there are no plans to launch mobile sports betting yet. Bettors will have to visit the land-based casinos to place bets on sports.
Like Wyoming, North Dakota is also contemplating to follow suit by launching tribal sportsbooks without any state legislation passed.
Wyoming Sports Betting Launches Amid Uncertainty
It is still not clear whether or not tribes need Wyoming state approval to launch sports betting.
Earlier, New Mexico launched sports betting under similar conditions. So far, it has been working fine amid ambiguous provision in state law to ban it. However, it is not universally applicable. Earlier in 2020, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt sought to add sports betting to new tribal compacts. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled against the decision.
When asked to respond to the Norther Arapaho’s initiative, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon’s office did not comment.
No Mobile Sports Betting
Anyone who wants to place wagers in Wyoming will have to go to one of the Northern Arapaho’s casinos as no tribes have sought to launch mobile sports betting.
Federal legislation was pushed forward last year would allow tribes to offer mobile betting as long as the servers were located on their reservations. Though Rep. Anthony Brindis’ bill was referred to the Subcommittee for indigenous peoples of the US, it received no further action.
North Dakota Following Suit
North Dakota will also see sports betting in the near future. Like Wyoming, North Dakota did not pass any sports betting regulation. However, the compact for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indian presents a clearer picture.
Under this compact, the tribe can operate sports betting except for what’s banned by PASPA.
Why Didn’t Wyoming Legislate Sports Betting?
Wyoming tried to legalise sports betting back in 2019. However, when the state first seriously began considering regulating gaming last year, the Northern Arapaho Tribe did everything to ensure to defeat the state legislation. The reason was simple: conflict of interest. For the tribe, it was an existential threat to one of its potential sources of revenue. Eventually, the dark money lobbying campaign defeated the state efforts for a regulated betting industry.
When regulated gaming resurfaced in the 2020 legislative session, the tribe sought to see the draft gaming regulations in a more collaborative manner. However, Wyoming established a statewide gaming commission to legalize only one form of gambling: slot machine-like “games of skill”. No other form of sports betting was allowed.
But last Wednesday, the tribe announced it would be moving forward with preparing a regulatory framework for sports betting at tribal gaming establishments in an attempt to capitalize on what was an approximately $1 billion industry in 2019.