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Wyoming Sports Betting Officially Legal Following Gov. Mark Gordon Signature

Wyoming is the second state in 2021 to formally pass legislation that authorizes sports betting. 

An American bison is pictured grazing in Jackson Hole, Wy. Visitors will be able to soon view the wildlife while simultaneously placing a bet on their favorite sports team on their mobile device. (Image: Pony Express Motel)

Gov. Mark Gordon (R) signed House Bill 133 into law on Monday. The mobile-only sports betting law permits up to five internet sportsbook licenses to be issued to experienced interactive sports betting operators that are already active in at least three regulated states. 

Approved sportsbook companies will pay a one-time upfront fee of $100,000 to the state. Annual renewal will cost $50,000. 

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) from sports betting will be subject to a 10 percent tax. The first $300,000 the state collects from sports wagering will be allocated for gambling addiction treatment programs. Afterward, sports betting taxes will be deposited into the state’s general fund. Anyone aged 18 and older can wager on sports. 

Since Wyoming does not have any land-based commercial casinos, sports betting will be conducted entirely online. 

The state’s Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, one of two federally recognized tribes in Wyoming, operates four Class II casinos or gaming halls. But HB133 does not permit the Eastern Shoshone Tribe from bringing sports betting to its gaming facilities. That would require the Native American group to enter into a Class III gaming compact with the state, something lawmakers have long refused. 

New Tax Stream

Wyoming, like many other states, is facing far less tax revenue in the wake of COVID-19. The state was already seeing budget gaps long before the coronavirus pandemic due to reductions in the oil and coal industries.

The Wyoming Gaming Commission forecasts that legal mobile sports betting, upon market maturity with five sportsbook platforms in operation, will generate annual wagers of almost $450 million. The commission says the actual number will be dependent on the conversion of players currently utilizing illegal offshore betting sites.

Since 2000, Nevada sportsbooks have averaged a hold rate — or the amount of the bets kept and won by oddsmakers — of around six percent. If that is realized in Wyoming upon market maturation, the state would be looking at roughly $27 million annually in new tax revenue.

That $27 million a year would be in addition to the five $50,000 renewal fees, or $250,000. 

While the tax money won’t solve all of Wyoming’s fiscal problems, HB133 sponsors say sports betting is already going on, so why not keep the money in the state? 

I can’t open up my phone and place a bet here, but I can go down to Ft. Collins (Colorado) and do it?” Rep. Landon Brown (R-Cheyenne) asked KOWB 1290 AM. “Why are you allowing Colorado to take all my damn money?

“This is literally the dumbest thing in the world,” Brown declared.

Potential Bidders

The three-state rule will keep sports betting newcomers out of the bidding pool. But there is a slew of current sportsbook companies that qualify.

Notable companies expected to apply for one of the five Wyoming sports betting rights include DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and William Hill.

The Wyoming Gaming Commission hopes to have sports betting live by Sept. 1.

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