Nevada and Wyoming may be located in the same western neighborhood in the United States, but the two states have little in common when it comes to gambling laws.
There are gaming options everywhere in the Silver State with more than 330 casinos. Slot machines can be found in airports and grocery stores. It's hard to spot an open seat in a sports book for the Super Bowl or March Madness.
In the Equality State, it's an entirely different story with just four tribal casinos in the 10th largest states in the country. Residents of Wyoming can't bet at a land-based venue on major sporting events. And it doesn't look like that status will be changing any time soon.
The U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 struck down a federal law that bars gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other games in most states, giving states the go-ahead to legalize betting on sports.
"As of right now I haven't heard of any state-wide legislation that's going to move sports gambling and make it legal in the state," said Tom Burman, athletic director at the University of Wyoming. "My guess is that it's going to come at some point in time in Wyoming."
Even though there are no sports books available at physical locations or online in the state of Wyoming, bettors still have the opportunity to place their bets from many offshore options — like the top-ranked platform Bovada.
Betting Laws in Wyoming
Almost 600,000 people live in the state of Wyoming, which is defined by vast plains and the Rocky Mountains. Cheyenne is the capital and largest city with more than 65,000 residents.
Wyoming gambling laws — whether it's pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing or the slots at Wind River Casino in Riverton — are regulated at the state level.
All legalized gambling in Wyoming is limited to the following areas:
- Tribal casino
- Pari-mutuel wagering
- Social gambling
- Charitable gambling
The minimum Wyoming gambling age is 18 years — that includes players that wager on the horses, bingo or tribal casinos.
Tribal venues with slot machines, tables games and live poker rooms have been up and running since the tribes fought for the right to run casinos, but getting approval in Wyoming wasn't easy.
The Northern Arapaho Tribe, which owns and operates the Wind River Hotel and Casino, took the state to federal court to fight for its right to operate a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. The tribe claimed that since Wyoming had allowed charitable gaming for fundraising purposes, it should be allowed to operate a casino on tribal land in accordance with the act. In 2005, the court agreed.
The gaming machines at Wyoming casinos don’t pay out in cash. Instead, they print out a receipt which must be cashed by a floor attendant or taken to the cashier’s cage.
There are two horse racing tracks in the state — Sweetwater Downs and Wyoming Downs. Pari-mutuel wagering on the races are legal at these tracks. People can also bet on racing simulcasts across the nation at the tracks and eight off-track betting parlors around the state.
Both racetracks offer about 25 live race dates in total and are located at opposite ends of the state. Wyoming Downs is in the northeast corner of the state north of Evanston, while Sweetwater is in the southwest region near Rock Springs.
The state lottery, branded WyoLotto, began its operation in July 2013 and entered into agreements with other U.S. lotteries for multi-state games like Powerball and Mega Millions.
The law specifically prohibits scratch cards, instant win games and video lottery terminals, joining North Dakota as the only U.S. jurisdiction to prohibit scratch cards. Initially, the lottery bill had a validity period until 2019. The re-authorization clause has since been removed.
Wyoming Sports Betting Laws
Nevada had a stranglehold on the sports betting industry until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 that the nationwide ban on sports betting was unconstitutional, opening the door to states like Wyoming to legalize the activity and share in the tax revenues.
While some states have made the move and now offer betting at land-based sports books, Wyoming is not among them as lawmakers haven't shown much interest in putting forth a bill or debating regulations for the industry.
To wager on sports, Wyoming residents have to register and log in to online offshore sites like Bovada to place their bets. Here, sports fans can play the money line, point spread and over/under totals or take a chance on one of the many prop bets.
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Wyoming's Favorite Sports Teams
No major league professional sports teams are based in Wyoming, but fans can enjoy popular American sports from local minor league teams in the state — Cheyenne Grizzlies (baseball), Wyoming Knights (football), Laramie Colts (baseball), Wyoming Calvary (indoor football) and Yellowstone Quake (hockey).
The closest city with professional sport teams is Denver, Colorado, which is less than a two-hour drive from the Wyoming state capital of Cheyenne. The Mile High city is home to the Broncos (NFL), Nuggets (NBA), Rockies (MLB) and Avalanche (NHL).