It will now be considered by the Senate

Wyoming House backtracks and approves online-only sports betting bill

The Wyoming House of Representatives on Wednesday reversed a Tuesday decision against a proposal to allow online sports betting in Wyoming, voting in favor of the measure and sending it on to the state Senate.
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The Wednesday vote in favor of the bill was 32-28, the same margin by which the bill was defeated a day earlier. This was possible because Rep. Mike Yin, who originally voted against the bill, introduced a measure for its reconsideration. The Wyoming Gaming Commission estimates online sports gambling market is worth $449 million in the state.

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

The bill was defeated Tuesday by a 32 – 28 margin at first, but Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, who originally voted against the bill, introduced a measure for its reconsideration, as reported by Cowboy State Daily. When the reconsideration vote was taken on Wednesday, Yin and fellow Democrat Chad Banks of Sweetwater county voted in favor of the measure, resulting in its passage. The Tuesday vote was on the third reading, which normally amounts to the final verdict on any bill. But under the rules of the legislature, a lawmaker who votes with the majority on any given issue can ask for a reconsideration of the bill.

House Bill 133, which will now be considered by the Wyoming Senate, would legalize online sports wagering, 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, which estimates Wyoming’s online sports gambling market is worth $449 million. 

The House passed an amendment on second reading to direct $100,000 toward gambling addiction prevention and increased that to $300,000 on a third reading amendment. House Bill 133 would require licensed sports wagering operators to remit 10% of online sports wagering revenues to the gaming commission on a monthly basis.

On Tuesday, proponents and opponents debated over the bill, 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. “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.

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.”

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