Proposed Bill in Wyoming Sparks Debate over Online Casino Expansion

Wyoming legislators are making strides towards legalizing and regulating online casino gaming with the introduction of House Bill 120. The bill, spearheaded by Representatives Jon Conrad, Robert Davis, Sandy Newsome, and Tom Walters, marks a significant step following the legalization of sports betting in 2021.

If the proposed legislation passes, the Wyoming Gaming Commission would oversee the online casino industry, granting licenses to up to five operators. However, these licenses come with a hefty price tag, requiring an initial fee of $100,000 and a renewal fee of $50,000 every five years. Vendors interested in participating would also need to pay an initial fee of $10,000, with a $5,000 renewal fee every five years.

The bill includes a taxation structure that imposes a 10% tax rate on operators’ revenues. Additionally, it sets aside $300,000 annually for problem gambling programs, demonstrating a commitment to addressing potential social issues associated with expanded gambling activities.

A notable provision of House Bill 120 is the allowance for interstate agreements, which would enable licensed operators in Wyoming to form partnerships with those in other states. This move is seen as a strategic response to Wyoming’s relatively small population, potentially fostering larger player pools and enhancing the industry’s viability.

Wyoming’s online casino ambitions are part of a broader trend across the United States, with states like Illinois, Maryland, and Hawaii also contemplating or actively pursuing similar initiatives to regulate online gambling within their borders.

In Illinois, lawmakers are considering House Bill 2239, which proposes a licensing framework for online gaming operators. Maryland is evaluating the possibility of legalization through a public referendum, while Hawaii is exploring comprehensive gambling reform with Senate Bill 3376, signaling a potential shift in its traditionally anti-gambling stance.

In addition to the legislative developments, Wyoming’s online gambling giants, including FanDuel and DraftKings, are challenging the legality of fantasy sports leagues following the Wyoming Gaming Commission’s ruling classifying them as illegal gambling platforms. This has sparked debate over their classification as games of skill or chance, with critics arguing that regulatory actions may stifle competition and limit consumer choice within the rapidly growing fantasy sports industry.