Close, but no cigar. That would be the tagline for sports betting in Wyoming for 2020. Tom Walter’s H 225 missed out by five votes in the Wyoming house shortly before the end of the legislative session. On the plus side, the bill came close to getting through and it would have been quite a surprise to hear such a thing in Wyoming when Murphy v. NCAA took place.
That landmark Supreme Court decision overturned PASPA in May 2018. Wyoming, which only has four casinos, all in Fremont County, was never really thought to be a state that would pursue legalized sports betting, but this bill changed all of that. An expansion of gaming is a relatively hot-button issue in the state and there were just too many detractors this time around.
The four land-based casinos, which are Wind River and 789 in Riverton, Little Wind in Ethete, and Shshone Rose in Fort Washakie, are, as you would expect, tribal casinos. There would have been some interesting discussions between the state and the tribes, particularly because the bill would have included full mobile and online wagering capabilities in an uncapped market. DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, and PointsBet are just some of the operators that could have tried to get into a Wyoming market that had no limit on licenses.
Alas, the bill fell short and supporters will have to make another run at it in 2021. Getting close to the finish line was a huge step in the right direction, though, and does provide some hope that Wyoming could be up and running over the next few years.
The bill would have prohibited betting on any college sporting events taking place in Wyoming or featuring a team from Wyoming. Perhaps the most interesting provision from the bill is that the legal age for sports betting would have been 18. The legal age for gaming in Wyoming is 18 with the tribal casinos, race tracks, and bingo, so sports betting would have followed suit. That would have made Wyoming the state with the lowest age requirement for betting on sports.
Wyoming does have daily fantasy sports and has these gaming halls and facilities across the state, so there is definitely enough infrastructure for the state to eventually get going. Furthermore, the tribes will be able to see how things progress in other states, particularly those with heavy tribal gaming influence, over the next several months. Perhaps they will put more of a push behind a bill the second time around.
For now, Wyoming is on the sidelines, waiting to get in the game. Expanded gaming is always a difficult legislative discussion, but the fact that Walters’s bill came so close to getting through the house does leave some hope for the future.
How Do I Bet on Sports in Wyoming?
As we just discussed, sports betting is not yet legal in Wyoming. It is fair to wonder when sports betting could be legalized. It could be 2021 or it could never happen, but an optimistic view never hurt anybody, so supporters will hope for the best when the lawmakers reconvene after the new year.
Unfortunately, options are rather limited in Wyoming. Colorado will be up and running in May 2020 with full online and mobile betting capabilities, so that will be the top option for residents of Wyoming. Otherwise, South Dakota could support gaming legislation in Deadwood, which is in the western part of the state and in close enough proximity to Wyoming to be an option.
Nebraska could be working towards moving forward, especially with Kansas very close to the finish line and Missouri likely to approve betting in the near future. As more states that are on the cusp start taking bets, bordering states are going to be pushed harder to keep that money in the state. Things like that could help a state like Wyoming, which may not necessarily want an expansion of gaming, but certainly doesn’t want to see money leave the state in droves.
With that, we’ll hope for the best in Wyoming that something happens in 2021.