By Mike Moser, guest columnist
Mike Moser is the Executive Director of the Wyoming State Liquor Association.
In March, 2020, House Bill 171 (Wyoming gaming commission) passed the Wyoming Legislature and was signed by the governor into law.
Among other things, HB 171 placed in statute the licensure, regulation and taxation of “skill games” being operated primarily in hundreds of Wyoming bars and clubs, including fraternal and veteran’s organizations.
There is a cap of four per establishment, and since then, over $2 million dollars has been generated for the state.
A few weeks later we were in the middle of a pandemic. These skill games proved to be a financial lifeline to these 300 plus businesses, without of which some, no doubt, would have closed their doors.
That reliable source of revenue during a time when uncertainty reigned is a big reason why some of them are still in business, and their employees still have their jobs.
But there was a difficulty created with HB 171. Built into the bill was a sunset on the operation of the games (June 30, 2021) and a moratorium on those businesses who did not have these games when the bill was signed.
These provisions were put in place so the state could, in effect, test the games out – to see their effectiveness and if they were a good fit for the state.
They’ve proven to be a lifesaver for our bars and restaurants and a good stream of revenue for counties, cities and the state’s education fund.
Since, they’ve passed the test, the “fix” now is Senate File 56 (Wyoming gaming commission-modifications and corrections) currently on General File in the Wyoming House of Representatives.
As helpful as these skill games have been for our small businesses and clubs, without the passage of SF 56, that lifeline would be snapped.
And although we have seen a lifting of COVID restrictions, business is far from normal, and that reliable revenue stream is just as important to our businesses and employees as it has ever been. And we are far from over with the COVID crisis.
SF 56 does not create any new type of gaming, but it removes the statutory death sentence for these machines and the funding stream to our businesses and the State.
We do not have one reason to support SF 56… we have more than 300 reasons; the small businesses in your town that have relied on these games to help keep the lights on. Senate File 56 needs to pass for the sake of those businesses and our employees.