Arapaho Tribe Lead on Wyoming Sports Betting

Sports fans in the US state of Wyoming could soon be able to bet on their favorite sports thanks to the efforts of the Northern Arapaho Tribe

The Tribe has said that they will be offering sports betting to all customers across the state, despite the fact that Wyoming has not passed any sports betting laws or regulations. But, according to a press release, the Tribe believe that they don’t need such legislation:

“The Northern Arapaho Tribe conducts gaming under the authorization of the US Department of the Interior, and does not require state approval for sports betting.”

That could potentially mean sports betting being added to the gaming operations in three casinos across Wyoming, including the Wind River Casino in the center of the state. 

Grey Area for Operators

Yet despite the confidence of the Arapaho Tribe, it isn’t entirely clear whether they can launch sports wagering without state approval. 

Sports betting operations came to New Mexico back in 2018, and sports betting fans in the state are able to place bets at a number of casinos. The New Mexico legislature has not passed sports betting law, and there is no online betting in the state, but neither has there been any legal challenge, and no law has been passed to explicitly ban it. 

This approach to sports betting didn’t have such a smooth passage in Oklahoma, however. Earlier in 2020, the state governor, Kevin Stitt, tried to add sports betting to the new tribal agreements, but he faced legal action, and eventually, the state Supreme Court ruled against him. 

Three Tier Gaming

The Tribal gaming sector in the US essentially breaks down into three tiers. Class I casinos are able to offer social games such as bingo, while Class II casinos can provide gaming machines that resemble slots but that are actually built around the mathematics of bingo. But the Northern Arapaho run Class III casinos, which are permitted to offer every type of gaming activity that is not part of the other two classes. This includes table games, but, under the Code of Federal Regulations, section 502.4, it also includes sports betting. 

The Tribe is therefore confident that they will be able to use these rules to support their launch of sports betting, although those who want to bet on sports in Wyoming will have to visit one of the casinos in person. Last year, there was an attempt to pass a federal law that would have permitted tribes to offer mobile betting if the servers were based on their reservations, but that legal initiative ended up stalled in committee. 

Dakota Sports Betting

Tribal sports betting could also be coming to another state in the region, thanks to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who are preparing to launch their sports betting services in North Dakota. As with Wyoming, the legislature in North Dakota has not passed any legislation authorizing the launch, but the Chippewa are on solid ground legally. Their tribal compact permits them to offer sports betting except for those forms of sports betting prohibited under the 1992 PASPA Act. 

Of course, that Act was struck down by the Supreme Court back in May 2018, which led to the national expansion of sports betting. The Chippewa will therefore be able to offer in-person sports betting to North Dakota residents, and reports indicate that they have already signed up with betting software company IGT to use their PlaySports trading and self-service technology.

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