On Wednesday, the Wyoming House of Representatives approved a bill to legalize online sports betting, reversing a Tuesday ruling and referring the bill to the state Senate.
Democrat Rep. Mike Yin Asked for Reconsideration
The Wyoming House of Representatives voted in favor of a plan to legalize online sports betting on Wednesday, overturning a Tuesday decision and sending the bill to the state Senate. During their floor session on March 9, the House had rejected Bill 133 on a third reading vote of 28-32.
The bill was approved 32-28 on Wednesday, the same ratio by which it was rejected the day before. The vote on Tuesday was on the bill’s third reading, which is usually the final decision. However, under the rules of the constitution, a legislator who votes with the majority on a given question may request that the bill be reconsidered.
Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, who voted no on the resolution on Tuesday, sought reconsideration. Yin and Rep. Chad Banks, D-Sweetwater County, voted in favor of the bill during the reconsideration vote on Wednesday.
Sports Betting Divides Lawmakers
According to the Wyoming Gaming Commission, sports betting could grow to as high as $449 million, some lawmakers believed it would negatively impact the population. This specific activity is likely to “destroy” many lives, Rep. Evan Simpson said Tuesday. “Addictions are real, and they will happen if we pass this bill,” he declared.
Online wagering is a vice, and it is the responsibility of lawmakers to protect the community, Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan County, said during the third ruling. “Just because we pass a law doesn’t make it moral,” Jennings had then declared.
House Majority Whip Jared Olsen, R-Laramie County, had said that the legislature is not supposed to control the way citizens live, adding that people have been playing on online sports betting platforms from Wyoming for some time now.
Funding for Education or Player Protection
Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Crook and Weston Counties, agreed that the bill could bring more money for the state, but he opposed the concept of legalizing online gambling and using some of the income to support wagering addiction prevention programs.
On the second reading, the House passed an amendment allocating $100,000 to gambling addiction prevention, which was increased to $300,000 on the third reading.
Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Laramie County, believes the legislature should hold off on allocating this money to K-12 education until they have a better idea of how much money it will generate. He also believes that education receives funding from too many income streams, making it more difficult for the general public to comprehend how education is funded.
Rep. Andi Clifford, D-Fremont, said she opposed the bill because members from the Eastern Shoshone tribe were not invited to participate in the debate. She explained: “I represent two sovereign tribes, Northern Arapaho, of whom I am a member and the Eastern Shoshone.”
Though Northern Arapaho members were present during the bill’s debate, Clifford said that the Eastern Shoshone had been disrespected by the lack of invitation.