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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Need Regulation? You Bet

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Published on Feb. 1, 2020

It is not often that you will ever hear that our state needs more regulation coming from me, but after reading up on the issue of gambling and legal betting in Wyoming, the state is in the need for some restrictions and regulations to protect those betting and gambling in Wyoming.

            A week or so ago, a personal opinion appeared in the Casper newspaper from State Sen. Ogden Driskill from the Senate District 01, which covers all of Crook, the northeastern half of Campbell and the northern half of Weston counties. Ogden serves as co-chairman of the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee and is the Senate Vice-President.

            This was the legislative committee that the Wyoming Legislation gave the task of creating a bill to regulate gaming and close any avenues that has allowed unregulated gaming in the state. It is safe to say that Sen. Driskill knows what he is talking about and is the right person to help lead the legislation on the subject of gaming.

            There is no doubt Wyoming has had a colorful past with gambling, most every town has it’s gambling stories and we’ve all seen the gambling pictures in the Wort Hotel in Jackson.

But since then, Wyoming has been pretty tough on gambling. The state fought gambling on the Wind River Reservation for over 10 years. 

            Currently, we have the casinos on the reservation, a state-wide lottery and pari-mutual horse racing in a few racetracks, simulcast and betting terminals for horse racing and of course bingo halls and charity gambling. It is still ok to have a poker game in your house or bunkhouse.

There have been some other types of gambling developed, some have been shut down. The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overruled last year and now sports betting is allowed all over America. 

            It is going to be huge business. Currently, I’ve heard in Wyoming, there is around five-to-six million a week gambled in the state and communities and the state gets nothing in return. 

As Sen. Driskill said “I have been involved with the debate on gaming since I entered the Wyoming Legislature as a newly minted state senator nine years ago. In that time, I have watched Wyoming implement a lottery, develop historic horse racing including slot-like machines and live horse racing and wagering. Traditional card games moved from backrooms and private residences, to bars and other establishments, and most recently ‘skill games’ and ‘gray and black’ games arrived on the scene. With the advent of electronics, these new games found a loophole in the existing gaming laws. Sports betting is now on the horizon.”

Sen. Driskill went on to say, “Today, we have the worst of both worlds-rampant expansion of gaming of all types with no rules or regulation what-so-ever. Unfortunately, even regulated gaming activities are not being enforced.”

As Sen. Driskill has said and I agree, we need a law to regulate gambling consistently from county to county in an honest and ethical manner and a Wyoming Gaming Commission to oversee gambling in the state. We could broaden the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission to oversee gambling. We have got to do something or the state and its gamblers could be at risk.

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