- Regulated sports betting went live in Wyoming today becoming the 23rd state to offer sports betting in some form or another.
- Wyoming could quickly become one of the best jurisdictions in the country for players despite having a small population.
- The first two sportsbooks to begin operating in Wyoming are DraftKings and BetMGM.
The state of Wyoming might have the smallest population of any US state but that didn’t stop them from putting together arguably the most intelligent regulatory foundation that I’ve seen yet. Sports betting went live in Wyoming today and they’ve created an ecosystem that should be great for everyone involved. Instead of taking the short view by charging absurd fees for licensing they’ve established such a reasonable tariff ($100,000 for initial licensing good for five years, $50,000 for renewal) that any serious sportsbook doesn’t have an excuse *not* to extend their platform to ‘Big, Wonderful Wyoming’. The state is assessing a reasonable tax rate (10%) which from a functional standpoint will be even lower as mobile sportsbooks aren’t forced to subsidize a legacy gaming operator or partner with a politically powerful industry that has curried favor with the political class like professional sports teams in Arizona.
Despite the state’s tiny population base of 578,759 (2019 estimate) Wyoming could quickly become a highly competitive and very player friendly market. All sports betting in the state will be mobile only with no limits on the number of licenses that can be issued. This is the way it *should* be but states are forever trying to artificially limit the number of gaming licenses in hopes of making them valued ‘chips’ that can be bargained away for political favor or limited to their cronies or financial benefactors (see Arizona).
Wyoming also created a simple litmus test for potential licensees with the primary requirement being that they must be licensed in at least three other states. I haven’t read the final version of the state’s regulations but I’m hoping there’s a process by which sportsbooks can request a waiver. I can think of several quality sportsbooks that don’t yet meet the ‘three state’ criteria with the most obvious being Las Vegas based Circa Sports. They’ve become one of the most influential sportsbooks in Nevada but are currently licensed in just one other state (Colorado). They’re going to be entering Iowa at some point in the near future at which point it’ll be a non-issue but IMO there needs to be an alternate route to Wyoming licensing for quality operations that don’t meet the ‘three state’ criteria. This is particularly important since so many internationally based sportsbooks have set up their first US operation in neighboring Colorado.
I went in to more detail about Wyoming’s sports betting infrastructure several months ago. Once they get a month or two in I’ll take a look at how everything has been working from a regulatory framework but it’s difficult to assess that until they get everything up and running:
The first two sportsbooks to enter the Wyoming market are a couple of the biggest players in the US–BetMGM and DraftKings. At least one other sportsbook–Caesars Sportsbook— is accepting signups from Wyoming players though as of last check the betting platform was not yet operational. In addition, betting data provider Genius Sports has been licensed as an ‘Online Sports Wagering Vendor’. There should be any number of additional launches between now and when the NFL football season kicks off on Thursday, September 9. For now, there isn’t much information about licensees on the Wyoming Gaming Commission website–this isn’t surprising and we saw a similar situation in Colorado when they launched sports betting in May 2020. The state will have to transition into a full service information resource for players and industry interests (as well as media types like me) and this takes some time. Hopefully, they’ll introduce a ‘roster’ of approved sportsbooks a la Colorado as well as offer information on commission meetings including agendas, video links, etc.
One thing that I think Wyoming might not yet realize: they could quickly become a ‘destination state’ for serious sports bettors. As soon as they get a decent number of betting options up and running in the state it’ll shoot Wyoming right to the top of the ‘quality of life’ states for sports bettors. Face it, Nevada and New Jersey aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I love Colorado and clearly nothing in Wyoming can match the ‘urban amenities’ of Denver but the cost of living is much lower and you’ve got access to the same the beautiful mountains and outdoor recreation opportunities. I’m not holding my breath for my home state of Utah to become an epicenter of sports betting but I’m completely stoked that Colorado and Wyoming are options. Another attractive thing about Wyoming that you might have figured out already–it’s a huge state with a small population meaning very low population density. The only US with fewer residents per square mile is Alaska. By way of comparison–New Jersey has a population density of 1,207.83 residents per square mile. Wyoming’s population density is 6 residents per square mile.’
There’s a lot going on in Wyoming that could make it a great state for companies to operate–particularly gaming related enterprises. Obviously, the quality of life is off the charts and the sports betting regulatory framework looks good. Wyoming has also created a ‘cutting edge legal framework’ for cryptocurrency. The media and political vanguards of the status quo and analog era finance have been wringing their hands over this–as they have Bitcoin and crypto in general–but that hasn’t stopped Wyoming:
Wyoming has pulled out far ahead of the rest of the country in opening the door to new types of cryptocurrencies businesses.
These changes have encouraged several high-profile companies in the industry to move operations from traditional high-tech hubs like San Francisco to Wyoming’s capital city of Cheyenne, including crypto exchange Kraken, blockchain platform Cardano and payment protocol firm Ripple Labs. But it has also put the state on a potential collision course with federal regulators who appear far more skeptical of the costs and benefits of blockchain technology than libertarian-leaning Wyomingites.
The (UK) Independent newspaper:
Here’s a video report from CNBC:
There’s plenty more–just Google ‘Wyoming Bitcoin’ and start reading. You’ll have to wade through the usual mainstream media FUD heavy on whatever phony argument is at the top of the ‘No-Coiner’ talking points at the moment (currently it’s the nonsense about crypto’s ‘environmental impact’ and critiques questioning the boom in NFTs) but there’s plenty about Wyoming. Not only are there a lot of similarities between Bitcoin and sports betting–both are threats to the status quo orthodoxy that the Federal government wishes would go away–but Wyoming is the first state to make placing bets with crypto explicitly *legal*:
Wyoming has legalized online sports betting with a new law that also allows gamblers to place their wagers in crypto.
House bill 133, which the governor signed Monday, lets sportsbooks accept “digital, crypto and virtual currencies” bets in lieu of greenbacks – so long as those cryptos can be converted to cash.
The law’s crypto rider highlights how lawmakers in America’s least-populous state are embracing digital currency as an essential part of their legislative agenda. First came the bills to woo crypto business. Now, Wyoming legislators told CoinDesk, crypto inclusion is almost second nature.
The irony here should be obvious–states like New York and California like to think they’re hotspots of innovation when in reality they’re tax heavy hellholes rife with corruption, bureaucracy, cronyism and a desire to protect the politically entitled at all costs. ‘Big, Wonderful Wyoming’ has them all beat.
Stay tuned for more on Wyoming’s sports betting launch….