Sports betting stakeholders in Wyoming have had their say as the state’s gaming commission develops its regulations, but on Tuesday at a meeting during which the rules were approved to be sent to Gov. Mark Gordon, they didn’t get an answer to another pressing question: When will the application process open?
When DraftKings representative Chris Cipolla asked when applications would be released, Wyoming Gaming Commission President Bob Davis chuckled and replied, “I think that’s putting the cart before the horse.”
Gaming commission Executive Director Charlie Moore expanded, saying, “For me, the focus is what’s in front of me and then I’ll move to Phase II. Obviously, you want to start operating, we have the same goal. We have a lot on our plate right now, and we’ll keep plowing through.”
While Moore acknowledged that wasn’t the answer Cipolla or other operators were looking for, it’s the answer he said he could give. The new sports betting law mandates that rules be finalized by Sept. 1, and in most states, that would include a section on applications and licensing.
Though Moore gave no timeline for applications and licensing, in most states it takes about 90 days from when the application window opens until operators are licensed. If that window opened today, 90 days would be Sept. 4. The NFL season opens Sept. 9, so it’s fair to say that wagering in Wyoming won’t be happening by the start of the 2021 football season.
Rules will go out for public comment
Wyoming’s new law will create one of the most open online marketplaces in the U.S. It will be the second market behind Tennessee to legalize online-only wagering.
The gaming commission on Tuesday did approve a set of rules that must now go to Gordon for approval. Following that, a 45-day public-comment period will open. The commission has been taking stakeholder feedback for a few months and has already worked their suggestions into the rules. Should any additional suggestions merit inclusion, that will happen after the public-comment period and before a final vote on the rules.
🚨 Sports betting is officially legal in Wyoming! 🚨
— American Gaming Association (@AmericanGaming) April 6, 2021
The vote on Tuesday was near unanimous at 7-1 The lone holdout was Jenni Wildcat, a new commissioner who voiced her discomfort at approving a “red-lined” set of rules rather than the finished product.
There were few new changes to the rules, which Moore said included ideas from Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Tennessee. Among the changes, commissioners agreed to remove the phrase “management services provider,” which was inadvertently put into one section, and to make some other technical and language changes.
Problem gambling advocate hits roadblock
Patrick Willard, director of policy and advocacy for the National Council on Problem Gambling, asked that the board include a requirement that a helpline phone number be added under the advertising section of the rules, but after some discussion, the idea was struck down.
Moore and some of the commissioners pointed to other sections of the rules that require operators to outline advertising guidelines. The new law requires that $300,000 of tax revenue be earmarked for problem gambling initiatives. In other, much more populous states, the number is around $1 million or is a percentage of tax revenue.
Another item of note is that Wyoming will be the first state to allow “exchange wagering,” defined in the regulations as “a form of wagering in which two or more persons place identically opposing wagers in a given market, allowing patrons to wager on both winning and non-winning outcomes in the same event.” Exchange wagering will allow two bettors to face off in a head-to-head format.