Online Sports Wagering Bill Comes Back From Dead; Passes 32 – 28 After Reconsideration

An online sports wagering bill which was defeated on Tuesday came back to life on Wednesday after legislators voted to reconsider and subsequently pass the legislation.

AW
Annaliese Wiederspahn

March 10, 20213 min read

Online gambling scaled

A bill that would allow online gambling in Wyoming was brought back to life in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and given final approval by a vote of 32 – 28.

Originally, the bill was defeated Tuesday by a 32 – 28 margin, but Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, who originally voted against the bill, introduced a measure for its reconsideration.

House Bill 133, which will now be considered by the Wyoming Senate, would legalize online sports gambling, allowing allow bettors who are physically in the state of Wyoming to place bets on sporting contests. It would also set up a regulatory framework under the Wyoming Gaming Commission.

Debate over the bill was passionate on Tuesday with proponents and opponents alike referencing family and freedom to make their points.

Newly-elected Libertarian Marshall Burt of Green River said there could be individuals who gamble irresponsibly as a result of the legislation, but that shouldn’t mean peoples’ freedoms should be taken away.

“If someone wants to gamble on a sports game, why is it that our choice to decide whether or not they can or can’t do that?” Burt asked. 

“Many of us ran on the commitment to freedom. I swore an oath to defend our freedoms both as a military vet as well as in these chambers. I don’t take these oaths lightly,” he said.

Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, mentioned the oath he took as well — but used it to urge his colleagues to vote against the measure.

He said the oath he took — referencing Section 20 of Wyoming’s Constitution — was to protect and promote health and morality of the people.

“It shall be the duty of the Legislature to protect and promote these vital interests by such measures for the encouragement of temperance and virtue and such restrictions upon vice and immorality of every sort as deem necessary to the public welfare,” Jennings said, quoting the Constitution.

“Think about your oath to this constitution and think, well, maybe, maybe those extra dollars that we shove in there is not worth what it costs to our society,” he said.

Rep. Bill Henderson, R-Cheyenne, said the benefits of legalizing online sports gambling outweighs negative costs to society. 

“I cast my vote for this bill I’m thinking about the greater good for Wyoming,” Henderson said. “What is the greater good here? The greater good is what we can do with the funds that are going to be generated.”

The Wyoming Gaming Commission estimates Wyoming’s online sports gambling market is worth $449 million.

According to the Action Network, a popular gambling news site, Wyoming would be one of the first online-only sports betting markets if the bill passes.

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AW

Annaliese Wiederspahn

State Political Reporter