Wyoming Legislators Studying Gambling

Several Wyoming lawmakers are studying gambling in the state in advance of the 2016 legislative session. Some of the subjects being reviewed include establishing a gambling commission, growth of the lottery since it started last August and the phenomenal success of historic horseracing which began in 2013.

Wyoming legislators who are members of Management Council recently asked the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee to study gambling in the state, including casinos and poker. Some lawmakers suggested the state establish a gaming commission to regulate all gambling. Committee Chairman state Senator Leland Christensen said, “If the Management Council decides that’s where we want to go, or if this committee wants to push something like that through, we’re looking at a two-year project.” Staff members will research other states’ gaming commissions and their budgets.

In addition, some lawmakers want to look into the growth of the Wyoming Lottery into new games since it began in August.

State Senator Dave Kinskey and others said they’re interested in learning more about historic horseracing, which was approved in 2013. Staff members will research the history of the historic horseracing and the statute that created it, as well as finding out how much money on average is being wagered in various games.

Before the historic horseracing law was passed, parimutuel events were limited to horseracing, harness racing, cutter racing, chariot racing, chuckwagon racing, dog racing and professional roping events. Estimated

total wagers were predicted at $27.5 million for 2014, but the actual handle was $113.5 million. The total payout to bettors was $104.7 million, or 92 percent of the total. In addition, the original estimate for the breeder’s fund was $110,000, but in actuality historical racing brought in $454,356. The revenue allowed a top award to a breeder of $100,000 this year.

Also, the bill dedicated one percent of the total dollars wagered to the cities and counties where the terminals are located. Originally estimated at $275,000 in 2014, the local government fund received $1.13 million. The amount allocated to the self-funded commission totaled $567,946, up from the original estimate of $137,500.

Live horse racing in Wyoming went from no races in 2010 to four in 2011, 10 in 2013, 20 in 2014 and 32 in 2015.