GILLETTE — Gambling sports fans in Wyoming are no longer required to bet through sketchy offshore websites to win, or lose, a quick buck.
The Wyoming Gaming Commission unanimously approved betting licenses for DraftKings and BetMGM on Wednesday during a special meeting in Casper. DraftKings went live about 23 minutes after the WGC meeting was dismissed, and BetMGM soon followed.
Wyoming became the 23rd state to have legal sports betting in additional to the District of Columbia, according to actionnetwork.com. Wyoming and Tennessee are the only two states to permit online-only sports betting.
Until now, the state hasn’t allowed gambling outside of tribal lands with the exception of some horse-racing events, according to the Jackson Hole News and Guide.
David Carpenter, project manager of sports wagering for the Wyoming Gaming Commission, expects more sports-betting companies to apply for a license in Wyoming in the coming weeks. With no limit on how many companies can virtually set up shop in the state, Carpenter said an ideal number would be around 20, similar to Colorado.
The initial fee for a company to apply for a five-year license is $100,000 and there is an annual renewal fee of $50,000, according to legalsportsreport.com. Wyoming will tax sports betting revenue at 10 percent.
The tax on sports betting revenue for other states ranges from as low as 6.75 percent in Nevada and as high as 51 percent in Rhode Island, according to the Jackson Hole News and Guide.
The first $300,000 made by the state each year will go to the Department of Health for programs intended to treat gambling addiction, Carpenter said. The remaining profit will go directly into Wyoming’s general fund to help fund schools and other projects across the state.
It’s important for the state to tap into new revenue streams with the uncertainty of the coal and gas industry, Carpenter said. He expects the state to make anywhere between $1.2 million to $3 million in the first year.
“I’ve spoken with legislators that have kind of given a ballpark of about $5 million in revenue every year,” Carpenter said. “Honestly, I thought it was going to be this bigger thing when I first got into this, but the way the equations kind of come down to it, there’s a very thin profit margin that they’re taking in as it is so it’s very volume based.”
Volume-based profit isn’t the best news for a state like Wyoming, the least-populated state in the country. But having online sports betting doesn’t cost the state anything and just is extra money coming, Carpenter said.
The Wyoming government took a free-market approach to the legalization of sports betting, meaning there are few restrictions on what bettors are able to wager on.
“We have a very broad catalog that literally covers anything you could possibly think of for the most part,” Carpenter said. “We have very limited restrictions, so you can bet on the University of Wyoming sports. It’s just very wide open and very free-market.
“I think we’re going to end up with a pretty good group (of sports books).”
But sports books are restricted from creating available bets for players to get hurt or arrested. Bettors are free to bet on professional and college sports, motorsports, boxing and practically any event that is considered a sport.
Legalizing sports betting brings Wyoming up to speed with the 22 other states and has created a new avenue for profit at the state level, Carpenter said.
“I’m excited about a new revenue stream for the state,” he said. “We need to start tapping into different resources and different ideas for revenues now, given the state of gas and coal here.”
Carpenter won’t be placing too many bets himself because it would be a conflict of interest, but he has plenty of friends who were excited to hear the news about legal sports betting coming to Wyoming.
“I think a lot of people are going to be real excited,” Carpenter said. “We have a University of Wyoming football game coming up on Saturday and there’s a really big golf tournament coming up (Thursday).
“I hope the excitement is quite broad, and it should be.”
Wyoming law will allow anyone over the age of 18 to participate in mobile betting, a difference from the 21-and-older law that many other states have implemented, according to the Jackson Hole News and Guide.
It didn’t take long for Wyoming to get sports betting off the ground in the state. Gov. Mark Gordon signed the bill of legalization of online sports wagering in April before approving the WGC’s final rules Tuesday.
Still for the many who worked to get sports betting live in Wyoming, Carpenter said Wednesday’s legalization felt like a long time coming.