wyomingThe least populated state in the nation, Wyoming was the second least likely state to regulate legal real money online poker at Internet poker websites – neighboring Utah being the first. That being said, the Cowboy State has recently expanded its scope of legal gambling and real cash betting activities. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean its government will be chomping at the bit to legalize Internet poker gambling, but it does mean that the future prospects of legit online poker websites making their way to Wyoming are no longer less than zero…but they’re still pretty close.

Enjoying a few rounds, or more, of poker on any of our real money US poker sites can be easily done for gamblers in The Equality State.

Wyoming Finally Legalizes The Lottery…To A Degree

In mid 2013, Wyoming’s state officials authorized the sale of real money lottery gambling tickets [1]. Although Wyoming becomes the 44th state to legalize lottery sales, the language of the law states that scratch-off tickets and electronic video lottery real cash betting machines would remain prohibited. The Equality State joins North Dakota as the only other state to allow lottery sales, yet outlaws instant tickets gambling.

When asked about the unusual circumstances, lottery advocate WY Rep. Dave Zwonitzer replied, ‘That’s the only way we could get that passed. We’re not into scratch tickets or any kind of video lottery – anything that might be considered instant gratification.’ Unfortunately, sales on real cash gambling scratch offs account for 51 percent of all lottery sales nationwide. Their absence will have a notable effect on the amount of real money betting revenue generated by the recently introduced WY lottery.

Wyoming’s state officials have been notoriously opposed to gambling and poker betting expansion, many of them fearing the negative effects it has on society. In 2011, state legislature proposed a similar real money gambling bill, only for it to be swiftly defeated in the House.

Originally set to go live in February 2014, the head of the Wyoming Lottery Corporation now predicts the first lottery ticket will be sold in June [2]. However, some feel that it could be delayed until as late as October. At the time of launch, Wyoming real cash betting residents will be able to purchase Powerball and Mega Millions tickets.

Can Players From Wyoming Play Online Poker?

YesDespite its conservative poker betting ways, Wyoming offers little in the way of resistance when it comes to creating an online poker account at Internet poker websites. In fact, all US poker websites – where you can play games like Texas Hold’em poker for real money – are amenable to residents of the Cowboy State.

Given Wyoming’s low population and harsh weather conditions, what better way to spend a cold, blustery night than stacking donkeys and shipping real money poker tournaments? Creating an Internet poker account, logging in and making your first deposit will take all of five minutes. Alternatively, you could hop in your car and travel to the nearest live real cash poker room, which depending on your location, might take hours. Sounds like an easy decision if you ask us.

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Is Online Poker Legal In Wyoming?

MaybeWyoming gambling and betting statues make no mention of legit online poker or Internet poker websites and thus, its legality remains somewhat open to interpretation. However, Wyoming’s broad definition of gambling and betting can easily be read as applicable to any form of wagering, all forms of real money poker gambling included:

  • Gambling means risking any property, including real money, 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. Section 6-7-101(iii)

While real cash poker is deemed by many as a game in which skill supersedes chance, even the most pro Internet poker advocate cannot deny that luck is a factor, particularly in the short-term. Thus, real money poker would almost certainly fall under the latitude of gambling.

The law does exempt several forms of gambling, including a stipulation for social gambling like casual home games of real cash Texas Hold’em poker:

  • Any game, wager or transaction which is incidental to a bona fide social relationship, is participated in by natural persons only, and in which no person is participating, directly or indirectly, in professional gambling, is an acceptable practice. Section 6-7-101(iii)(E)

Wyoming’s law makes several other notable exceptions relating to real money gambling, mostly for charitable bingo.

In order to fully grasp the weight of the aforementioned exclusion, we must identify how the state defines professional gambling:

  • Professional gambling means (A) Aiding or inducing another to engage in gambling, with the intent to derive a profit therefrom; or (B) Participating in gambling and having, other than by virtue of skill or luck, a lesser chance of losing or a greater chance of winning than (1) or more of the other participants. Section 6-7-101(viii)

The first caveat can easily be read to mean the house can’t take a cut or in a real cash poker game that the house can’t take a rake, and is meant to apply to poker betting operators, while the second appears to discourage cheaters.

The penalties for gambling and poker betting are quite severe, and encompass both players and operators:

  • A person who engages in gambling commits a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, a fine of not more than seven hundred and fifty dollars ($750.00), or both in WY.
  • A person who engages in professional gambling commits a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than three (3) years, a fine of not more than three thousand dollars ($3,000.00), or both.

That being said, law enforcement officials aren’t exactly hunting down players with vigor who wager online at real money Internet poker websites. Over the past several years, only a handful of gambling and betting arrests have been made, and we can’t find one instance where a mere participant served jail time in WY.

Players are encouraged to talk to their lawyer or local professional if they have further questions regarding the legality of online poker and just how legal real money Internet poker is. For more on the topic, visit the e-version of Wyoming’s state code [3].

The Facts

The History Of Gambling In Wyoming

Wyoming has a rather storied gambling and poker betting legacy – surprising, we know. As early as 1822, fur trappers would gamble real money and other things at local saloons, the first of which was built in Brown’s Hole. Over the years, more settlers traveled through the state of WY, some on their way to California to hunt for gold, others to find prospecting work in the state’s mines; almost all of them looking for a little gambling and poker betting action, if only as a means of entertainment.

And thus, over 150 saloons and other gambling facilities like real money poker rooms popped up in the state by 1880; including the notorious Occidental Hotel [4], which still stands as a remnant of the Old West to this very day. The hotel was famous for hosting the highest stakes legal real cash poker games in WY, some of them where the poker gambling lasted for days.

At the turn of the century, the McGill Act of 1901 banned gambling and betting in Wyoming. During the Great Depression, legislatures pushed to overturn the Act, but their cries for bringing back real money poker betting fell on deaf ears. Horse racing gambling was still tolerated but that too eventually fell out of favor. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that real cash legal gambling was reintroduced to the Cowboy State.

In the late 1980s, a federal law authorized the Indian tribes to operate casinos and live poker gambling venues. Local WY officials fought to limit the types of games offered at tribal casinos, and were mostly successful, at least until recently.

Over the past few years, legit Wyoming-based casinos began offering slot machines and table games, including lawful real money poker. Shoshones Casino in particular is currently undergoing a significant expansion that will effectively triple the number of poker betting table games [5] and add a convention center.

Charitable bingo was legalized, followed by the re-emergence of pari-mutuel real money gambling wagering in 2011. Then, in 2013, lawmakers legalized a limited form of real cash lottery gambling in WY.

No, online poker is not legal in Wyoming, but the state will not get in your way if you want to play at an online poker room.

Regulated Gambling Options In Wyoming

Partial varieties of charitable gambling and the lottery are available in Wyoming. Pari-mutuel wagering is legal at the state’s sole real cash gambling racetrack. Tribal casinos and real money poker rooms are only now beginning to offer a wider variety of slots and table games. And commercial gambling is still strictly prohibited by law in WY.

The Future Of Regulated Online Gambling In Wyoming

Ask us two years ago and we’d say there was absolutely no chance that Wyoming would consider an iGaming Internet poker bill. But since then, several forms of real cash gambling have been legalized. Whether or not this pro-gambling trend will continue is currently unknown, but at least now there’s hope for lawful poker websites. Not much, but it’s a start.

Fun Fact

In January 2014, a glitch rerouted 75 percent of all Chinese iGaming Internet poker traffic to a small facility in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The building, which has been the target of investigation before, apparently houses approximately 2,000 companies, and at one time served as the paper headquarters for a company that helped online poker websites evade Internet poker gambling bans [6]. Seem suspicious? We think so.

The Bottom Line

The real problem with Wyoming is that even if the state’s conservatives come around and pass iGaming Internet poker legislation, its paltry population could never sustain a thriving poker community at real cash poker websites. One need only look at Delaware to see just how much a state’s population factors into its chances of success in the Internet poker world.

If anything, the only way Wyoming could generate significant real money poker traffic would be by forging an Internet poker pact with other states keen on legalizing online poker websites, and that’s probably not going to happen.


[1] Wyoming Catches Lottery Fever; Online Gaming Eyed Elsewhere

[2] Official: Wyo. lottery just 5 months away

[3] Article 1 – Gambling

[4] The Occidental Hotel

[5] Shoshones plan big expansion of casino near Lander

[6] How Chinese Internet Traffic Got Redirected To A Small Brick House In Cheyenne, Wyo.

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