Wyoming’s state legislature will have the opportunity to consider legalizing and regulating online gambling, including online poker, in the form of a new measure just introduced by four state representatives.
Wyoming House Bill 0120 (HB0120), would authorize several forms of interactive gaming to be conducted in the Cowboy State. The measure was introduced by four Republican House members, Representatives Jon Conrad, Robert Davis, Sandy Newsome, and Tom Walters. Rep. Walters was also a sponsor of the 2021 bill legalizing sports betting and fantasy sports, which successfully passed Wyoming’s legislature and was signed into law.
If it becomes law, HB0120 would authorize most forms of live casino-style gaming to also be offered online. The bill defines an “interactive game” as an “internet‑based version or variation of poker, blackjack or any other card, slot or gambling game typically offered in a casino, including any internet based gambling game approved by the commission.”
All licensing, regulatory, revenue collecting, and other administrative duties would fall under the aegis of the Wyoming Gaming Commission. The gaming commission would also be charged with creating a fiscal-impact study to estimate the overall financial impact regulated Wyoming online gambling would be expected to have on the state.
Avenue for online-poker player pooling included in bill
HB0120’s sponsors have had the foresight to include a way for Wyoming to partner with other regulated US online-poker states. Such a partnership, whether directly with other states or through an organizing entity such as MSIGA, would be necessary to make Wyoming online poker a viable service.
Though large in area, Wyoming is the least populous of all 50 US states. Its 2023 population is estimated to be 584,057. By comparison, tiny Delaware on the US’s East Coast, where online poker has struggled, has a current estimated population of 1,031,890, nearly twice that of Wyoming’s.
Other features of HB0120 include an age-18 minimum to play online. The bill would authorize up to five online operators, who would have to be in good standing in at least three other states. The initial form of the bill proposes that 10 percent of all interactive gaming revenue would go into the state’s tax coffers. $300,000 of each licensed operator’s annual tax payment would be dedicated for problem-gambling services in the state.
Featured image source: US National Parks Service