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A bill to legalize sports betting in Wyoming failed in a vote on the House floor Friday.
Rep. Tom Walter’s H 225 was narrowly defeated by a vote of 27-32. Walters tells Legal Sports Report that many of the people voting against the bill are simply against all gaming.
“They felt that by providing a regulatory opportunity it was legalizing it,” Walters said. “I somewhat disagree in saying it’s not illegal but it operates in an underground world because we don’t have a regulatory framework in place. With no regulatory framework, it will continue to not be monitored.”
The setback kills any hope for sports betting this year in the Equality State. Wyoming’s legislative session ends March 6.
As Wyoming doesn’t have much in the way of existing facilities for gambling in the state, Walter’s bill legalized sports betting for mobile and online platforms.
Sports betting in Wyoming would have been taxed at a rate of 16% with an initial license fee of $20,000 renewable for $10,000 annually.
The bill set the minimum age for sports betting at 18 years old. Sports wagering would have been allowed in the state beginning in 2021.
The bill had no limit to the number of applicants for a sports betting license. Online sports betting operators, DraftKings and FanDuel, which already offer daily fantasy sports in the state, were pushing for the legislation.
Walters indicated that the vote was so close that he didn’t know how it would turn out when the bill came up for the final tally.
“I knew it was tight but felt like I had enough support that it was worth it, and also I wanted to start the conversation,” Walters said. “There were some people who were maybes, and ultimate five of those folks decided to vote no.”
Current gambling in Wyoming consists of dog and horse racing and unregulated video gambling terminals in bars. A form of sports betting has occurred in the state in the past in the rodeo industry.
Walters indicated that the bill failed because the appetite for expanded gambling doesn’t yet exist in the state, but the close vote shows that Wyoming might be able to grow support for sports betting in 2021.
If he is re-elected in November, Walters stated that he would try again next year.
“I think legislators will go home and their constituents will ask what happened with sports betting,” Walters said. “I think a lot of them don’t realize how much sports betting is taking place. When they get back and talk to their neighbors they’ll be shocked by how much interest there is in this, and then next year they might be excited to put regulation in place.”