The state of Wyoming has been moving quickly on a plan to bring legalized online sports betting to their jurisdiction and have become a sneaky favorite to become the “Next” state to welcome a legal wagering platform. The Wyoming House of Representatives have seemingly done their jobs, leaving the fate of a potential platform up to the Senate, who met this week on the matter.
The possibility of a legal sports betting platform in Wyoming only became a reality in February when Representative Tom Walters introduced a Bill to let the matter at least be heard by elected officials. His Bill has passed every test so far with the Senate the next biggest hurdle before any final announcement is made.
A Bit of Background
As mentioned, Bill 0133 came about in February. In its first attempt to be passed by the legislature, it failed by a 32-28 margin, prompting another vote which came March 10. In that vote narrowly passed by a slim and ironic 32-28 margin, paving the way for the Bill to be heard in the state Senate.
The mobile betting bill has seen some success in the Senate so far but will need to be put to a vote before the entire body before its next move. The Senate Appropriations Committee was the first upper chamber body to hear arguments and passed it in a 4-1 vote last week with a recommendation to push back launch date from July 1 this year to September 1.
Approval of Bill 0133 means that it will be sent to the Senate floor for approval. If and when that happens, Governor Mark Gordon will be next to sign the nation’s second online-only legal sports betting platform into law.
What the Proposed Platform Would Look Like
For starters, the Wyoming market is going to be small. The state is the least populated in the country with 572,381 residents. It remains to be seen whether or not the small base of potential bettors will scare away top wagering providers and just which companies will be willing to take a chance on such a small population.
As the Bill is written, the Wyoming Gambling Commission would become the body in charge of regulation, licensing and permitting. Prospective vendors, which is estimated to be 5 in total will be required to have a presence in at least three other US legal sports betting jurisdictions.
The online platform will be taxed at 10% and permits will cost $100,000 and be valid for five years. After that, a $50,000 renewal fee will be due.
According to the Bill: “Sporting event” means any professional sports event or athletic event, any Olympic or international sports event or athletic event, any amateur sports event or athletic event, any collegiate sports event or athletic event, electronic sports, or any portion thereof, including the individual performance statistics of contestants or athletes in sports events, athletic events or a combination of sports and athletic events, or any other event approved by commission rules”.
What’s at Stake
It is unclear as to what the size of the market is expected to be in Wyoming but a fiscal note that came along with the Bill reads: “The Gaming Commission indicates that the state’s sports wagering market is estimated at over $449,000,000, dependent upon conversion from the illegal market.”
Estimates say the Wyoming could generate $5 million in revenues annually although that number has since been amended to between $2.23 million and $4.7 million.
Like many prospective legal sports betting jurisdictions, there is widespread knowledge of illegal gambling already taking place. Taking advantage of some much-needed revenue from a practice that is already taking place is a huge motivator for lawmakers in various states, including Wyoming.
“Just like it was before with lotteries and things like that, there are people who migrate out of the state to place those bets,” Sen. Drew Perkins, R-Casper, said during Thursday’s session. “This is already happening both legally and illegally. A big part of this bill is not necessarily to create a hammer to go after those who are doing it illegally, but more to create a more protected and regulated environment, so when (bettors) place the bet and they win, their bets are paid.”
Monday was a huge day for Bill HB 133. It passed a surprise Senate vote by a 24-5-1 margin paving the way for a few small amendments to be made and it being sent to Gov. Mark Gordon to ultimately sign.
So, after an incredible journey to this point, one that included a vote against, eventual passage in the House by the narrowest of margins and a shockingly easy road in the Senate, an online-only sports betting platform is one step closer to reality in Wyoming.
Now the wait begins to see just which operators are willing to take a chance on Wyoming’s small market. It is a wait however that citizens of the state seem more-than-willing to endure.