Wyoming Legislator Considering New Gambling Legislation

In Wyoming, the stance on gambling is relatively conservative. However, over the past few years, legal gray areas and innovations in technology have made it difficult for players to know what they can and cannot do legally involving the industry. In one area, you may have legalized poker and in one town over, the game is not allowed. Because the legal landscape is unclear, one legislator has plans to introduce a bill that will transform the current regulator into a larger group, covering more gambling opportunities.

Building a Gaming Commission

Senator Ogden Driskill is a member of the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee who has plans to introduce a bill that will change the Pari-Mutuel Commission into the state’s Gaming Commission.

Currently, the Pari-Mutuel Commission only oversees the horse racing industry and historic horse race offerings. With a full Gaming Commission, the group would be in charge of a larger landscape of gaming. According to Driskill, the goal is not to expand gaming in the state but to define what is already taking place.

The change would create a model for anyone who is providing gaming in the state to have a license or permit. The state would then know where gaming is taking place and what is being offered.

Many people are already in support of this change as there are bad operators who come in and set up shop in the state. With a more regulated approach, oversight would be in place to help the gaming industry operate smoothly, protecting consumers along the way.

There are already skill games operating in many areas of the state, with hundreds of games in operation that were considered illegal in the past. With oversight, such games would be shut down with legal backing and only official options would be on offer.

Overlooked by Law Enforcement

Right now there are only two groups that regulate the gambling industry, county attorneys and the Attorney General. Lawsuits involving the gaming industry are not begin taken on because the county attorneys do not want to be involved. Because of the gray areas and the absence of county attorney support, gambling is not being covered by local law enforcement.

Basically, law enforcement are unsure as to what is legal and what is not. So instead of going after illegal operations, the gaming operators are being left alone. Games are taking place on a regular basis and players are the ones at risk.

According to Driskill, because there is no oversight, players have no idea if the games they are playing have a fair payout percentage or if they are being cheated. With a Gaming Commission in place, such problems could be avoided. Operators would be held accountable for what they provide and players would be able to wager in a more secure and fair environment.

Helping the State

And of course, with oversight and licensing regulations in place, the state would benefit from new revenues. It has been estimated that with the number of gaming machines growing in the state, as much as $12 million to $15 million could be generated from the licensing process of the gaming commission.

For now, the bill is in the drafting stage. It is unclear as to if the measure will be introduced this year or if Driskill will wait until 2020. It will be interesting to see if the bill is picked up and gains support to bring structure to the gaming industry of the state.


Our in-house expert for all things regulation, Jackson covers all major recent developments across US states relating to gambling laws & legislation.