Wyoming Is First State To Legalize Online Sports Betting With Bitcoin

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It was a long time coming, but Wyoming HB0133 is finally law.

The bill, signed by Governor Mark Gordon (R), formally legalizes domestic online sports betting in the state.

However, this isn’t just any standard betting bill of the type we’ve seen passed in 20+ other US states.

Instead, Wyoming’s approach to legal sports betting sets a new standard, and it takes its cues primarily from the international sportsbook model.

That is, the WY law shares substantial similarities with the options available at the best US-friendly offshore sportsbooks, shoring up several oversights that other betting bills have heretofore failed to address.

One of the primary differences between the new Wyoming betting law and most other states’ approaches is the fact that in WY, legal betting is accessible to every resident at just 18 years of age.

The standard in most of the country where sports gambling has been legalized is 21-plus.

But while rare, that’s not exactly unprecedented. There are a few states where the legal minimum age to bet sports domestically is also 21.

Still, providing access to an entire swath of players between 18 and 20 years old is a positive coup for the state’s coffers, as that age range is a non-trivial segment of the betting demographic.

Wyoming is also just the second state in America to limit its sports wagering market exclusively to the online space, joining Tennessee in this respect.

While in-person betting may be made available at the state’s four tribal-operated casino venues, the initial rollout will be online-only.

However, the biggest point of intrigue about WY’s new online betting law is that it’s the first in the nation to explicitly list cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ethereum, and other altcoins as viable modes of bet funding.

To this point, the only way for 18 and up sports bettors to wager on sports using BTC and other cryptos has been to patronize legal online betting sites operating overseas.

That said, there is a caveat to consider:

Just because HB0133 allows for cryptocurrency deposits at domestic sportsbooks, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be able to deposit with cryptocurrency at domestic sportsbooks.

That’s because in order for crypto to be an effective bet funding method, the sportsbook operators themselves must be set up to accept such digital payments.

And that’s far from a sure thing.

Why?

As part of the Wyoming betting bill, permits are earmarked only for established operators that have already been up and running in other states.

This means that the heaviest hitters – brands like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, William Hill, etc. – will be first in line for the limited number of WY sports betting licenses available.

However, because these brands have never been allowed to accept crypto payments in any other state where they operate, they are not yet set up to do so.

While cryptocurrency transactions are easy enough to implement on the vendor side, there are still significant technical issues and setup costs involved, especially considering the associated governmental reporting requirements and other compliance measures in play regarding crypto specifically.

Quite simply, it may not be worth any big brand’s effort to build out a cryptocurrency-based financial platform solely for Wyoming’s admittedly modest betting market.

After all, Wyoming has the smallest population of any US state, which means it also has the smallest number of active sports bettors on aggregate.

Still, the movement has to start somewhere – domestically, at least.

(At reputable US gambling sites based internationally, Bitcoin and other cryptos have long been accepted, and they always come with added benefits like enhanced sports betting bonuses and same-day payouts.)

Wyoming’s sports betting bill also avoids some of the more frustrating pitfalls that plague other state betting initiatives.

Chief among these is the baffling habit legislators have of excluding local college athletics from the betting boards.

The rationale is that college athletes may be prone to match fixing schemes and other “integrity”-related issues, although there’s never been any evidence to suggest such.

Other states will sometimes allow college football betting and college basketball betting but disallow live in-game wagers on these games.

Given that live betting is the fastest-growing sports gambling feature in the industry, many domestic players are losing out on one of the most entertaining ways to wager due to these shortsighted policies.

Offshore sportsbooks, of course, allow for full college betting and in-play betting on all NCAA games.

And now, Wyoming does, too.

Nevertheless, HB0133 does miss the boat in one crucial respect: eSports betting.

Per the law, there is no mention of Wyoming eSports gambling legalization. This is a massive tactical and financial error, as  eSports betting is the fastest-growing betting market in the world.

Look, when the annual Dota 2 International commands more viewers than the freaking Super Bowl, it’s probably something to support on the betting boards.

All that notwithstanding, eSports betting is likely to be added to Wyoming’s online gambling repertoire in the future, especially as the stigma of eSports being “kid games” wears off and the industry comes into its own as a stalwart challenger to gold standards like the NFL, MLB, the Premier League, and the ATP.

But in the meantime, WY is definitely missing out on a major opportunity.

Fortunately, if you live in Wyoming, you don’t have to miss out on eSports betting – or any other sports betting market – because the new law has not addressed the legal status of offshore betting sites in any way.

These international online gambling services remain safe and legal for all Wyoming residents, and despite HB0133, the state has a long way to go before it can fully match all the options – including legal USA online casino games and online poker tournaments – that these sites have to offer.

Source: Wyoming State Legislature