We cannot comprehend why Wyoming’s state legislature last year passed House Bill 133 that legalized mobile sports betting in the state and went into effect last Wednesday.

The bill allows betting on sports events from a mobile phone app.

The best argument anyone could offer for allowing mobile sports betting was made by Sen. R.J. Kost (R-Powell) who said people are doing it anyway (gambling on sporting events), they might as well legalize and regulate it for consumer protections, while earning some tax revenue off it.

Shouldn’t there be a more substantial reason than people are already doing it illegally, so let’s legalize it?

Does that logic then maintain that any illegal activity being conducted in the state be made legal because people are already doing it?

Additionally, how much money will it actually bring into state coffers?

Rep. Sandy Newsome (R-Cody) said, “I don’t think it’s going to be a huge revenue stream.”

We certainly hope it won’t be a huge revenue stream because that would indicate more people are having a gambling addiction problem.

When New Jersey legalized mobile betting, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey reported an 11% increase in helpline calls in less than 14 months.

It is truly telling when a total of $300,000 from the gambling proceeds in the state will be donated annually to Wyoming’s counties to prevent and treat problematic gambling.

Gambling addictions translate directly and indirectly into more dependence on the taxpayer-funded services provided by the Department of Family Services.

So legalized mobile sports betting, most likely won’t bring much revenue into the state and most likely will cause an increase in compulsive, problem betting.

Frankly we don’t see any upside and a lot of downside to House Bill 133.

(1) comment

Santo Perdido

Who's "we?" Anyone who thinks legalizing sports betting results in a tidal wave of gambling addicts has no clue how sports betting works and, therefore, shouldn't bother opining. The only way to tackle problem gambling is through legalization. The only way to tackle shifty sportsbooks who take the money and run is through legalization. The only way states can become more self-sufficient is through legalization. An "increase of 11%" is irrelevant without exploring the actual numbers. If something goes from 1 to 11, it has jumped 11%. Overall, in the US, the rate of problem gambling is LESS THAN 4% of the population. Check the stats on alcohol (legal), opioids (legal) and even video games (legal). The addiction rates, compared to that of sports betting, is staggering. There are more people addicted to chocolate than there ever will be to sports betting.

Instead of people continuing to waste their energy trying to stop something that can't be stopped (sports betting will be found in every US state, just like cannabis), use that energy to ensure the proper frameworks are in place to create a properly-regulated, well-administrated market that uses the revenue for the best possible reasons.

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