Legal Wyoming Poker Laws

A Guide to Poker in the State of Wyoming

Wyoming Gambling Laws

In this guide to poker in Wyoming, first up is a brief look at the gambling history of the State. Following this you can find the laws relating to poker and whether it is actually legal or not. Where you are able to play live is covered next along with Wyoming’s view on online poker.

A Brief Overview of Gambling History In Wyoming

Like in many States, Wyoming’s anti-gambling laws appeared in the first draught of the State’s constitution in the 1800s. Since then, apart from allowances for some pari-mutuel betting on horse racing and a lottery there was no activity towards legalizing gambling until the 1990s.

In 1988 the Indian Gaming Regulation Act was passed on a Federal level allowing tribes to gain permission from State governments to operate casinos on their reservations. This was deemed to be a right of the tribes providing the State operated some form of gambling. When Wyoming refused to negotiate with the tribes the battle was taken to the courts, resulting in a victory for the tribes after over 10 years of legal discussion.

This has resulted in three casinos being created.

Is Poker Legal in Wyoming

Wyoming’s code, Chapter 6, 7-101 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…”

While the law includes chance it does also mention the activity only has to depend ‘in part’ on chance, making it very hard to make skill game argument in favor of poker. Therefore poker is only permitted where it is regulated or under circumstances where an exceptions are made.

Further sections go on to class gambling as a misdemeanor and professional gambling as a felony. There are sections however, which carve out exceptions for social games between friends.

Where Wyoming Residents Can Play Poker

Even though it is encouraging to see the tribal casinos open, it has had little effect on the poker games here. The two casinos which run poker games, the Little Wind and Wind River casinos both run a handful of cash games depending on demand and the occasional tournament throughout the month. While it does not provide much, there is at least the hope games could grow in the future.

Home games are permitted and this is where you can find most of the action. The games are not allowed to be run as a business by raking the pots or taking a fee of the players as this would class the game as ‘professional’ gambling, making it illegal. There is also the need for players to have a ‘bona-fide relationship’ which is assumed they know each other outside of the game, although the actual meaning is unclear.

Free to enter bar leagues do operate here. These allow players to compete for leader-board points which then award the top finishers prizes normally donated by the sponsors. While these free games do not normally class as gambling, they operate in a grey area and have occasionally been closed down. Charity poker events meanwhile are fine providing a license is obtained first.

The Status of Online Poker in Wyoming

There are no laws directly addressing online poker in Wyoming, although the authorities have stated openly they regard it as illegal under existing laws. Given the length of time it took tribal casinos to gain permission with Federal laws supporting them, online poker looks unlikely anytime soon however this may change if other States prove successful.

Despite the State’s official stand on online poker, there is no enforcement preventing people playing on the internet. As a result thousands of players both in Wyoming and across the US enjoy games provided by offshore sites. These are usually based in the Caribbean islands, where they operate legally and insist they can provide games to Americans because of free trade laws.

In Summary – Wyoming Poker

The state government of Wyoming is not naturally in favor of poker or gambling in general. This was shown by the long and drawn out arguments it had with the tribes before it had to permit their casinos. While three establishments are up and running, there is hope for more poker action in the future and the majority of poker is still found in the privately run home games.

Players can find online games offered by the offshore sites, if they wish to take the risk. Future regulation is a remote possibility in Wyoming, yet still looks far off.