No Legislation, No Problem? Tribe Launching Wyoming Sports Betting

Posted on October 22, 2020 - Last Updated on October 21, 2020

It might not be through traditional channels, but it appears Wyoming will eventually have sports betting.

The Northern Arapaho Tribe is adding sports betting to its gaming operations throughout the state. That’s despite Wyoming not having legislation clearing sports betting for launch.

That’s because they don’t need it, according to the tribe.

“The Northern Arapaho Tribe conducts gaming under authorization of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and does not require state approval for sports betting,” the tribe said in a press release.

This means sports betting in Wyoming could be coming to three casinos, including the Wind River casino in central Wyoming.

Wyoming sports betting launching into gray area

It’s not entirely clear whether tribes need state approval to launch sports betting.

Sports betting in New Mexico launched under similar circumstances and so far has been accepted without a clear provision in state law to ban it.

That’s not always the case, though. Earlier this year in Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt attempted to add sports betting to new tribal compacts. He was sued and ultimately ruled against by the state’s Supreme Court.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon‘s office did not respond when asked about the Northern Arapaho’s plans.

How the tribal games break down

Tribal gaming is broken down into three classes.

Class II and Class III are the most common. Casinos with Class II gaming means they can offer machines that look like slots, but actually operate based on the math of electronic bingo. Tribes that have Class I gaming can offer social games like bingo.

Class III gaming, which the Northern Arapaho offers, includes everything that is not Class I or Class II gaming like table games. Class III is further defined by the Code of Federal Regulations to include sports betting in section 502.4.

No mobile WY sports betting

Anyone that wants to bet in Wyoming will have to visit one of the Northern Arapaho’s casinos. No tribes have attempted to launch mobile sports betting when launching without enabling legislation allowing it in their state.

There was federal legislation introduced last year that would have let tribes offer mobile betting as long as the servers were located on their reservations.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi‘s bill was eventually referred to the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States but received no further action.

North Dakota getting tribal wagering, too

There will also be sports betting in North Dakota sometime soon, though that’s a much clearer picture.

North Dakota didn’t pass any enabling legislation either, but the compact for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians is pretty clear. The tribe can operate sports betting except for what’s prohibited by PASPA.

Of course, PASPA fell in May 2018, which allowed full US sports betting to expand beyond Nevada.

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians will use IGT‘s PlaySports platform, self-service kiosks and trading services.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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