Wyoming state Rep. Tom Walters has never placed a sports bet in his life. And he’s not sure he ever will. But on Monday Governor Mark Gordon signed his legislation, House Bill 133, bringing sports betting to the Cowboy State and Walters couldn’t be happier.
“For me it’s a consumer protection issue and making a regulated market. I wanted to see consumers protected,” Walters said in an interview with Gaming Today Tuesday in between votes in Cheyenne.
He laughed at the irony of never having placed a wager, but said he was “quite excited” his bill was finally a law.
He hopes residents can make bets come the fall, just in time for college football.
Walters, a Republican, worked on similar legislation last year but said the timing wasn’t right. So during the last 8-10 months, he said he worked with advocates on all sides hoping to get the perfect piece ready to go.
He tried to model his legislation after Colorado’s sports betting legislation, which was passed last year.
The end result was a bill that passed both the House and Senate. Gordon quietly signed the measure Monday.
The Fine Print
The Wyoming Gaming Commission has until Sept. 1 to come up with recommendations on how to move forward. That doesn’t mean they need to take that long.
The law stipulates that only online sports betting operators can take part. Walters said this was deliberate.
“We don’t want a casino on every corner. We are still a quiet, little, conservative state [and] we don’t want to intrude on others,” he said.
The law also requires any of the sportsbooks that do operate already have locations up in running in at least three other states. This means small operators are out of luck, but big businesses such as FanDuel and William Hill (now part of Caesars), among others, would be eligible.
The Northern Arapaho Tribe runs the Wild River Casino in Riverton and announced last year it hoped to offer sports betting in person. The tribe, unlike others, runs its gaming operations through the US Department of Interior, so it doesn’t require state approval.
According to a bill summary report from Walters the legislation requires the first $300,0000 in annual profits to go toward gambling addiction programs. After that profits will be taxed at a rate of 10%.
Cheering For Colorado Teams And Buffalo Bills?
There are no professional sports teams in Wyoming, but there are college ones. Bettors would be able to wager on college sports, whether in the state or not, as well as professional teams across the country. The only teams barred are those whose members are overwhelmingly under 18.
Walters said he expects most residents to wager on Colorado teams, including the Rockies, Avalanche, Broncos, and Nuggets. The Buffalo Bills, however, also have a sizable fan base because former University of Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen was drafted by the Bills in 2018.