In a surprising turn of events, Wyoming has stepped forward as an unexpected contender to legalize online casinos in 2024, catching many off guard.
Unexpected iGaming Legislation in Wyoming
Late Tuesday night, Wyoming made headlines with the sudden introduction of an iGaming bill. Representative Robert Davis took the initiative by filing HB 120, aimed at authorizing and regulating iGaming within the Cowboy State. This positions Wyoming as the sixth state to actively engage in online casino legislation this year, as tracked by industry observers at Sweepscasinosusa.
Despite not being predicted by Sweepscasinosusa as a state likely to consider online casino legislation in 2024, Wyoming’s move follows a recent trend. Just last year, Rhode Island, another smaller state, took the industry by surprise by introducing and passing online casino legislation, becoming the year’s sole state to legalize iGaming.
However, Wyoming’s journey to mimic Rhode Island’s achievement seems fraught with challenges. Unlike Rhode Island, which had the backing of a single gaming entity, Bally’s, for online casino legislation, Wyoming presents a more diversified gaming scene with four Indian casinos and four sports betting apps. Further complicating matters is Wyoming’s brief legislative session, attributed to it being a budget year.
Details of the Wyoming Online Casino Bill
Exploring the intricacies of the Wyoming online casino bill, HB 120 ambitiously outlines the framework for bringing internet-based versions of traditional casino offerings such as poker, blackjack, slots, and more to life. It sets forth several key provisions:
- The Wyoming Gaming Commission is designated as the regulatory body.
- At least five interactive gaming operator permits are to be issued, with no cap on the number of online casino apps.
- The minimum age for participation is set at 18.
- An initial fee of $100,000 for an interactive gaming operator permit, renewable every five years at $50,000, and for interactive gaming vendor permits, an initial fee of $10,000, renewable at $5,000 every five years.
- Live dealers are mentioned, but their studios are not required to be located in Wyoming.
- The bill allows for entering into multistate agreements for interactive gaming, crucial for making poker viable given Wyoming’s status as the least populated state.
- Online casino revenue is taxed at 10%.
- Annually, $300,000 is allocated to the Department of Health for county health programs aimed at preventing and treating problem gambling, with the remaining revenue directed to the general fund.
Comparisons to Wyoming’s Sports Betting Law
The language and structure of HB 120 closely mirror Wyoming’s approach to online sports betting, legalized in 2021. This includes similarities in licensing fees, tax rates, and allocations for problem gambling, as well as the consistent minimum gambling age of 18.
Wyoming’s foray into online sports betting, championed by Governor Mark Gordon, who is still in office, may offer insights into the potential trajectory of the online casino bill. Presently, four prominent companies operate online sportsbooks in Wyoming. The transition to online casino licenses is expected to be streamlined for these entities, courtesy of provisions in the iGaming bill that facilitate an abbreviated application process.
The role of Wyoming’s Native American tribes, which operate four tribal casinos, in the online casino landscape under HB 120 remains uncertain. The state’s broader gambling ecosystem, which includes tribal gaming, racetracks, and off-track betting facilities, presents a dynamic backdrop to this legislative endeavor.
With Wyoming’s legislative process noted for its efficiency, especially during budget sessions that are notably brief, the precedent set by the passage of sports betting legislation under similar constraints provides a hopeful outlook for the online casino bill’s success, following a methodical legislative approach established in previous sessions.
What to Expect?
Wyoming’s foray into online casino legislation marks a significant shift in the state’s gaming landscape. With the introduction of HB 120 by Rep. Robert Davis, Wyoming aims to become a pioneer in the iGaming sector in 2024. The bill proposes a regulated framework for internet-based casino games, setting a precedent for future states considering similar legislation. As the sixth state to explore online casino laws this year, Wyoming challenges expectations, showing that even states with a modest gaming history can lead in digital gaming innovation.