Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Wyoming

2020 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in Wyoming?

Wyoming doesn’t look like it’ll legalize online poker anytime soon. Even a sports betting bill failed to pass through the House in late Feb. 2020. The bill, H 225, paved the way for mobile and online sports betting platforms since there aren’t many brick-and-mortar betting establishments in Wyoming.

The bill set the minimum betting age at 18 and would’ve launched sports betting at the beginning of 2021. Potential sports betting operators would’ve had to pay a $20,000 licensing fee and a 16% tax rate. That bill failed on a 27-32 vote though. The reasons why also don’t bode well for online poker. Rep. Tim Walters, the bill’s author, said the opposition mostly came from legislators who are opposed to expanding any kind of gambling.

We’ll need to see a big shift before we see online poker regulation in Wyoming.

Wyoming Poker

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming (Photo by Lukas Kloeppel from Pexels)

Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Wyoming

There’s not a lot of gambling in Wyoming. There are barely tribal casinos and the lottery didn’t start until 2013, much later than most states. The state also has strict laws against gambling and is loath to loosen them. There are some legislators who have tried to expand gambling, but it’s failed to pass the wider House and Senate.

So, first of all, what does “gambling” mean in Wyoming. Section 6-7-101 of Wyoming’s State Statutes cover the definition. Under it, the state defines gambling as:

“Risking any property for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, the operation of a gambling device or the happening or outcome of an event, including a sporting event, over which the person taking a risk has no control”

The key word here is “chance.” Chance is the most common way to define gaming in state statutes. The next important thing is the qualifier. Here we see “in whole or in part upon lot” preceding the word chance. This is always an important qualifier since in 2012 Federal Judge Jack B. Weinstein ruled that poker was a game of skill.

This opened the doors for states to start legalizing online poker. Lots of statutes only include the word “chance” which gives poker an easier path to legalization. While poker is a game of skill, no one could argue that there’s zero luck or chance involved. That puts poker directly in the Wyoming gambling statute. This is another hurdle for online poker legislation in Wyoming.

Can I Play Poker on PokerStars in Wyoming?

If you read the above section, you probably know the answer: No. You can’t play PokerStars in Wyoming just yet. While PokerStars is slowly making its way back to the US, it’s only available in two states and Wyoming isn’t one of them. While there aren’t any state-run poker sites in Wyoming yet, there are tons of sites that accept players from all 50 states.

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Legal Gambling Forms of Gambling in Wyoming

There aren’t a lot. Wyoming does have some tribal gaming sites and a state lottery, but that’s pretty much it. They do have some interesting caveats like social poker and antique gambling device regulations though.

First, the lottery. Wyoming passed a bill in March 2013 to legalize a state lottery. Tickets went on sale the following year and sales are growing every year. In 2020 the lottery is projected to generate $29.86 million in revenue.

Wyoming also has a few tribal casinos. All of them are on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Only two of those casinos have hotels though. These two casinos are also the only one with table games. They’re all located near the center of Wyoming though, so you can visit all of them in the same trip.

When it comes to poker, Wyoming has an interesting loophole. You can play poker, even at establishments, if the owner isn’t profiting and the players have a “bona fide social relationship”. Legislators debated changing this, but poker has become a popular pastime in small Wyoming towns. The law also brings up a few questions, like what if you don’t know one player at the game? Read more about it here .

Curiously, Wyoming citizens can own a gambling device as long as it’s at least 25years old and not used for gambling purposes. This classifies it as an “Antique gambling device”.

Specific State-by-State Laws
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