Just weeks after it looked like the state of Wyoming was giving up on the idea of legalizing gambling, it looks like they’ve made a U-turn.
State legislators have revived the idea and now are considering forming a gaming commission to examine the idea of legalizing all forms of gaming – including sports betting – statewide.
Although it seemed like the idea of full-scale legal gambling was dead and gone in the Cowboy State, Senator Ogden Driskell of Devil’s Tower set forth a motion to create a task force to weigh gambling expansion, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.
Currently, the state’s Pari-Mutuel Commission oversees the horse racing industry but the idea would be for them to expand their duties and also regulate all forms of gambling – including sports betting.
At this point, the Pari-Mutuel Commission has not discussed the idea of taking on the greater responsibilities. More important, there has been push back from lobbyists in the skill gaming industry as they feel like it’s allowing one industry to regulate a competitor.
The idea of creating a regulatory body to possibly expand gambling in the state has the reservation casinos on edge. Currently, the only legal casinos are tribal casinos and they’re important to their communities.
The casino revenues they generate go to fund much-needed social services. They clearly don’t want to have anything to do with expansion that could create more competition and take business away.
The Northern Arapho Tribe has been doing everything possible to protect its interests, even going as far as hiring lobbying groups to kill statewide gaming regulations. They aren’t the only ones who oppose gaming, though.
Though the recent push to create a gaming commission has gained some steam, proponents are still faced with the issue they had three weeks ago when many lobbyists and legislators were against gambling expansion.
Of course the tribes are not on board -- but according to the Casper Star-Tribune, neither is David Miller, a Republican representative from Riverton who is one of the chief opponents to a gaming commission.
He has said he feels like gaming has gotten too far out of control with customers around the country betting on their phones. He said ht feels that tweaking an old law and adding government bureaucracy to a fast-changing industry isn’t going to solve anything.
Wyoming is a bit of an odd state when it comes to gaming as it is allowed in different forms. Any wagering game is allowed as long as its part of a "social gathering."
It is tough for the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police to decide what’s really a social gathering and what’s operating as a makeshift casino.