Wyoming lawmakers are leading the charge in the state’s push to legalize and regulate online casino gaming with the introduction of House Bill 120. The bill, spearheaded by Representatives Jon Conrad, Robert Davis, Sandy Newsome, and Tom Walters, represents a significant step following the legalization of sports betting in 2021.
Under the proposed legislation, 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, along with a renewal fee of $50,000 every five years. In addition, vendors looking to participate would need to pay an initial fee of $10,000, with a $5,000 renewal fee every five years.
Operators would also face a 10% tax rate on their revenues, with $300,000 annually set aside for problem gambling programs, reflecting a commitment to addressing potential social issues associated with expanded gambling activities. One intriguing provision of House Bill 120 is the allowance for interstate agreements, enabling licensed operators in Wyoming to form partnerships with those in other states, potentially fostering larger player pools and enhancing the industry’s viability.
This move in Wyoming is 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, with Sen. Ron Watson championing the cause. Meanwhile, 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 pivoting to challenge the legality of fantasy sports leagues after the Wyoming Gaming Commission ruled them as illegal gambling platforms. Critics argue that such regulatory actions may serve to stifle competition and limit consumer choice within the rapidly growing fantasy sports industry.