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Wyoming Legislature Launches Comprehensive Review of State's Growing Gambling Industry

In response to the rapid expansion of Wyoming's gambling industry, the state's legislature has undertaken a comprehensive review of the gaming landscape. This initiative, highlighted in a footnote in the 2024 Session Laws, Chapter 118, signifies the first in-depth examination of the state's evolving gambling sector.

The decision to conduct this study comes amidst substantial growth within the industry, driven by legislative authorizations and changing consumer preferences. Originally known as the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission, the regulatory body's transition into the Wyoming Gaming Commission in 2020 coincided with the broadening of permissible forms of gambling, including skill-based amusement and charitable games. The subsequent legalization of online sports wagering in 2021 further accelerated the industry's trajectory, resulting in significant contributions to the state's revenue from wagering activity.

Recognizing the need for informed decision-making and effective regulation in light of these developments, state lawmakers have prioritized a thorough examination of various facets of the gaming landscape. The statewide gaming study, to be conducted by the Wyoming Gaming Commission in collaboration with the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee, will delve into critical areas such as all forms of pari-mutuel wagering activities, skill-based amusement games, and online sports betting.

Moreover, the study will scrutinize the proliferation of betting locations and activity, the oversight capacity of the Wyoming Gaming Commission, criteria for license or permit denial, and processes for addressing noncompliance with gaming laws and regulations.

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Nick Larramendy, Deputy Director of the WGC, emphasized the importance of the study in developing a strategic plan to ensure the protection of Wyoming citizens. He stated, "Now that the agency has grown so much … we really need to get a comprehensive study. Part of that study helps us develop a strategic plan moving forward to ensure the citizens of Wyoming are protected."

During a recent meeting in Laramie, members of the Joint Appropriations Committee reviewed the role of the Gaming Commission and discussed the industry's expansion. Committee co-chairman Rep. Bob Nicholas highlighted the educational value of the study, underlining its significance in understanding and effectively regulating the burgeoning gaming sector.

A significant aspect of the industry's growth is the expansion of live horse racing events, facilitated by the approval of historic horse racing (HHR) machines in 2013. These machines have played a crucial role in funding live horse racing events, contributing substantial revenue to various entities, including the Wyoming Gaming Commission and the state's Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account (LSRA).

Taxation rates on wagering proceeds vary based on the form of gambling, with a portion allocated to cities, towns, counties, and the state. The revenue generated supports various programs, including the Wyoming Breeder Award Program, which incentivizes Wyoming-bred horse production.

Overall, the comprehensive review underscores the Wyoming Legislature's commitment to understanding and effectively regulating the evolving gambling landscape in the state, ensuring responsible growth and the protection of its citizens' interests.



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