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.