Wyoming Tribe Plans to Introduce Sports Betting at Casinos

Wyoming Tribe Plans to Introduce Sports Betting at Casinos
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An initiative from the Northern Arapaho Tribe could bring sports betting to Wyoming.

In a press release from the Northern Arapaho Business Council (NABC), the tribe announced it has begun taking the formal steps to enable sports betting at the Wind River Hotel and Casino in Riverton and at its two other nearby gaming establishments in Wyoming.

“With the addition of well-regulated sports betting, our Northern Arapaho Tribe has an important opportunity to enhance the gaming experience at our facilities while generating increased revenue to help fund vital programs and services for the Arapaho people,” the NABC said in a statement. “Tribal gaming officials and the Northern Arapaho Gaming Agency are currently taking the appropriate steps to allow wagers on sporting events, an amenity we are excited to make available to patrons of the Wind River Hotel & Casino and our other tribal gaming establishments.”

The Northern Arapaho gaming officials are in the process of drafting regulations to accompany sports betting. According to the release, the tribe does not require approval from the state in order to introduce sports wagering.

“The Northern Arapaho Tribe conducts gaming under authorization of the US Department of the Interior, and does not require state approval for sports betting,” the NABC said.

What About Mobile Betting?

As it stands, it’s likely that sports bettors will have to place their wagers at one of the Northern Arapaho’s casinos. No tribal group has attempted to launch online sports betting when introducing sports wagering without approval from the state.

But federal legislation was introduced last year that would allow tribes to offer mobile betting as long as the servers were located on their reservations. The bill, HR 5502, was introduced by New York Rep. Anthony Brindisi. It was eventually referred to the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States but has not progressed.

Sports Betting Without State Approval?

Because of mixed results from across the country, it’s unclear whether tribal communities need state approval to offer sports betting.

Some tribes have had success, such as the Santa Ana Star Casino in Bernalillo, New Mexico. The casino is operated by the Tamaya Nation tribal community and managed to launch sports betting without state approval.

Other tribes in New Mexico were also able to introduce sports wagering, including the Buffalo Thunder Resort, owned and managed by the Pueblo of Pojoaque Corp tribe, and the Isleta Casino near Albuquerque, which is regulated by the Pueblo of Isleta.

But earlier this year, the state’s Supreme Court ruled against Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt when he attempted to add sports betting to several new tribal compacts.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) establishes three classes of games with a different regulatory for each:

  • Class I gaming is “traditional” Native American gaming and social gaming for minimal prizes.
  • Class II gaming includes bingo, pull tabs, punch board, tip jars, instant bingo and other games similar to bingo.
  • Class III gaming includes all forms of gaming that do not fall under the first two classifications. Generally, Class III is referred to as casino-style gaming. In the Code of Federal Regulations, sports betting is defined to fit in the Class II category.

Other States Look to Introduce Sports Betting

One of Wyoming’s neighboring states, South Dakota, will look to add sports betting on Nov. 3. South Dakotans could allow Deadwood’s commercial casinos to offer sports wagering by voting yes on Constitutional Amendment B.

The constitution currently authorizes the legislature to allow certain types of gaming in Deadwood such as roulette, keno, craps, limited card games and slot machines. If Amendment B passes, it would authorize the legislature to include betting on sporting events as a type of gaming permitted in Deadwood.

“It’s important for Deadwood to stay competitive as a gaming destination and offer the same gaming options that surrounding jurisdictions are offering,” Mike Rodman, Deadwood Gaming Association Executive Director, said. “We just think it’s certainly important for Deadwood to be able to do that and have sports wagering here in South Dakota.”

Iowa, Montana and Colorado are other states in the region that already offer sports wagering. Projections for South Dakota point at the state possibly adding $22.1 million in additional gaming revenue, $2.2 million in additional gaming taxes and 152 direct gaming jobs with $6.1 million in additional income, according to an Oxford Economics study commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA).

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