Just in time for the upcoming football season, Wyoming is ramping up to enact the sports betting rules it approved earlier this year. On April 5th of 2021, Governor Mark Gordon signed HB 133 into law, a bill that allows citizens of the state to participate in online sports wagering. The rules of this law go into effect on September 9th.
Much like with the passage of Tennessee’s recent online betting law, an unlimited number of operators can apply for licenses. Many big-name sports betting operators have already applied, including well-known companies like FanDuel, DraftKings, Barstool, and BetMGM. The bill requires a minimum of 5 licenses to be issued before sports betting can begin, but that already seems like it won’t be an issue.
Gambling in Wyoming, and the Battle for HB 133
The age requirement for wagering is set at 18-years-old, younger than the 21-year-old standard other states have been setting with their online gambling rules. Many other states also offer in-person sports betting, as long as it takes place within a casino, but Wyoming is one of the few holdouts refusing to engage in this practice.
This previous lack of interest in sports gambling came into play in March of 2021, when the House initially rejected HB 133, failing to pass a vote with 28-32 against. The sponsors of the bill were numerous, with backing from mostly republican representatives. These representatives included Lando Brown, Donald Burkhart, William Henderson, and Steve Harshman.
In his defense of the bill, Representative Harshman spoke about citizens’ usage of VPNs to circumvent Wyoming’s previous prohibition of online gambling. By legalizing it within the state, he argued, would completely eradicate this criminal activity and turn illegitimate revenue into tax revenue for the state of Wyoming.
A more bipartisan effort existed in the Senate, with Democratic Senator Mike Gierau and Republican Senator Jeff Wasserburger being the bill’s main proponents. With these lawmakers’ support, the bill was revisited. It was finally approved in April, with plans to initiate the plan outlined in the bill in early September.
Tax Revenue and Cryptocurrency
It’s not hard to see why it was eventually approved, with the Wyoming sports betting industry valued at a whopping $449 million. This new law will help to fill the state’s coffers with millions in tax revenue. According to the bill, these operators will have to pay $100,000 for a five-year license, with another $50,000 each year that they wish to renew.
Sports betting operators must also give 10 percent of their revenue to the Wyoming Gaming Commission, which will go to important sectors like education and county health programs.
An amendment added to the bill by House Majority Floor Leader Albert Summers ensured that those county health programs would include addiction counseling, helping to quell some lawmakers’ fears about the law increasing degenerate gambling. These county health programs will not only focus on those who have issues with gambling but drug addiction as well.
Wyoming will also be the first state to allow payments in non-fiat currency, and there will be an option for participants to use cryptocurrency to place their bets. Wyoming will be the first state in the country to do so, though lawmakers did request the usage of crypto that citizens can easily convert to cash. Bets can also be placed with more traditional forms of payment from any U.S. bank account, with credit cards and debit cards being accepted.
Wyoming College Football Fans Rejoice
This all comes as great news for fans of the University of Wyoming’s college football team, The Cowboys. The college preseason begins on August 28th, and the official college football season commences on September 4th, only five days before the bill goes into effect. This means fans won’t have to wait long until they can place bets on their favorite college team.
While Wyoming doesn’t currently have its own NFL team, the NCAA will have just as many opportunities for sports gambling. The state lacks any major league sports franchises but offers many different college teams to place bets on.
Besides the University of Wyoming Cowboys, there are three other college teams in the state. These include the Casper Thunderbirds, the Central Rustlers, and the East Wyoming Lancers, who are all gearing up for the college season.
With the HB133 in no way prohibiting college wagering, there is certain to be a lot of action for the 2021 Wyoming football season. So pick your favorite sports booker, get your bets ready, and turn on the game: This year should be an exciting one for Wyoming sports fans.