CHEYENNE — A bill to legalize online sports wagering in Wyoming for the first time cleared both the House and Senate.
House Bill 133 directs the Wyoming Gaming Commission to regulate the activity by setting up rules and imposing fees and penalties. The commission will have until September to draft the rules.
Supporters of opening up online sports betting have said the activity already occurs in the state illicitly; Wyoming is simply missing out on needed money.
“(The bill) tries to stop the black market that is taking place now, put consumer protections into the bill, and then allow people in Wyoming ... to place bets,” Sen. Jeff Wasserburger, R-Gillette, said in support of the bill during its initial reading in the Senate last week. “Then it has a 10% tax on that bet.”
In a fiscal note, the Legislative Service Office said it was tricky to estimate exactly how much revenue legalization of sports betting would create. But the Gaming Commission estimates the state’s sports wagering market has a $449 million value in Wyoming.
The legislation would transfer a portion of any revenue generated from the gambling program to the Department of Health to provide resources for gambling addiction treatment.
Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, proposed a successful amendment on Monday to update permit application requirements, but otherwise the bill sailed through the Senate on its final read.
The bill passed its third reading in the Senate in a 24-5 vote, with one member excused.
But the proposal to open up sports gambling in the state was not as warmly received in the House earlier this month.
The third-read vote on the gambling bill in the House was 32-28.
Opponents worried the move would only lead to higher rates of gambling addiction.
The legislation still needs a signature from Wyoming’s governor before becoming law.
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