Wyoming Gambling Commission Measure Appears Dead for Now
GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — A legislative panel won't support a bill to create a gambling commission in Wyoming, which likely dooms the measure for the next year and leaves hundreds of gaming machines in bars and truck stops across the state unregulated and untaxed.
The Joint Committee on Travel, Recreation and Cultural Resources decided Friday not to back the bill that would create an oversight panel and regulations for certain gambling, a measure that also failed to gain support during the legislative session earlier this year.
The Star-Tribune reports a patchwork regulatory environment and poor enforcement has led to more than 400 gambling machines currently operating in Wyoming without regulatory oversight, generating more than $4 million in revenue that is untaxed.
Lawmakers have been struggling with how to strengthen oversight and regulations. Committee members said they anticipated there would not be much support for a bill in next year's legislative session to deal with the budget.
Republican state Sen. Ogden Driskill, of Devils Tower, said an individual lawmaker could still sponsor a bill, but it would be unlikely to pass.
"My prediction is we're going to come back next year with nothing passed, and we're going to be dealing with something between 800 and 1,200 machines," Driskill said. "It's getting harder and harder to slow that down."
Gaming industry officials in attendance Friday expressed willingness to be regulated, but say they want to be treated fairly. Some said they favored self-regulation instead of a commission.
"We do not feel like (a gaming commission) is a necessary step to regulate our industry," Katherine Wilkinson, a lobbyist for Wyoming Skills LLC, a group of businesses that own and operate gaming equipment.