STATE POKER LAW INDEX

Wyoming Poker Laws

wyoming-Grand-Tetons-Latham-Jenkins-Flickr-Circumerro-Stock-645x430Wyoming’s gambling laws are pretty clear, there’s really no doubt here as to what qualifies as gambling or not, particularly when it comes to poker. Let’s start by looking at how gambling is defined in Wyoming:

“”Gambling” means 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…” (1)

Wyoming is one of several states that have prevented arguments as to the nature of chance in a game, whether it be predominant or not for instance, by having the game in question’s dependence upon chance be “in whole or in part.”

So in other words, if a game that someone is wagering on is dependent upon chance to some degree, even a small degree, then it will qualify as gambling in Wyoming.

States that have merely described gambling as involving games of chance have ended up not delineating the scope of the law clearly enough, and whether a game like poker would qualify hasn’t been clear at all and this has left the courts to decide whether or not it is seen to be, with varying interpretations and results.

Playing poker for money though in Wyoming is definitely gambling though, because there is an element of chance in the game, regardless of the role one may see skill in playing.

 

Wyoming’s Laws Against Gambling

So now that we know poker is gambling, let’s see how the law against gambling reads in Wyoming.

“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 fifty dollars ($750.00), or both.” (2)

As we may have expected after reading the gambling definition in this state, it now becomes a straightforward affair, committing gambling in Wyoming is a crime. However there are several exemptions, situations where what would otherwise may be considered gambling would be permitted.

The one that is pertinent to poker playing reads as follows, as one of the situations where something would not be considered to be gambling under state law:

“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.” (3)

This requires us to understand how “professional gambling” is defined in Wyoming, and it doesn’t mean someone that gambles for a living, it is actually someone who profits through the promotion of gambling or cheats at 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 one (1) or more of the other participants.” (4)

 

How This All Applies To Poker Playing In Wyoming

The ultimate goal of anti gambling laws in a lot of states is really focused on controlling commercial gambling, there may be laws preventing any form of gambling but even in states where this is the case the emphasis as far as enforcement is concerned is centered around prosecuting those profiting from it.

When we put together Wyoming’s law against gambling together with its definition and exemptions, we find that this is what their law cashes out to, for the most part anyway. As is the case with social gambling exemptions, the definition of “bona fide social relationship” is going to be central to its applicability, and states don’t really define the intended meaning of this, in Wyoming or in any of the other states that use this term in their laws.

This would seem to suggest a prior relationship between the parties beyond the actual interaction in the game, and being able to show such a relationship, however incidental that may be, would probably qualify.

Meeting up at the table might not, but this really wouldn’t occur in social games, in other words held in a private setting where prospective players cannot merely walk in and play without an invitation.

So it might be more correct to describe this as private games, which are permitted provided no one profits other than his or her winnings. It’s pretty clear that this would be permitted in Wyoming.

It’s less clear though when we look at playing poker on the internet. In some states there is a requirement that no one profit from the game as a third party but with the law here it does refer to “no person” profiting. This could easily mean no person present, and it could also be argued that the distinction of professional gambling must be applied to someone actually in Wyoming and not in another country, where the laws of Wyoming would be irrelevant.

So in other words, in this case we have no one present at the game who is a professional gambler, and there is actually only one person present, the player, who is not a professional gambler.

So at best it’s not all that clear anyway whether wagering on poker by way of the internet would constitute the crime of gambling or whether it would qualify under the social gambling exemption. Often, it is not required that lawmakers contemplate internet gambling specifically as if all gambling is illegal than internet gambling would be as well, but this is a case where there’s going to need to be some interpretation by the courts, which we do not have presently in Wyoming, or a rewriting of the statute.

Wyoming does have a bit of regulated live poker though, a one table operation at the tribal run Wind River Casino and several bars in Laramie which allow poker. (5) The folks in Laramie have been able to avoid prosecution, in spite of efforts to shut these games down, due to their not making money off of the games there although they do make profits from the sale of alcohol.

Wyoming residents do have full access to the several online sites that accept Americans from select states, and among these, we can recommend a couple to you based upon our experiences. Check out our reviews for Carbon Poker and America’s Cardroom by visiting the links below.

References:

(1) Wyoming Statutes, 6-7-101 (iii)

(2) Wyoming Statutes, 6-7-102 (a)

(3) Wyoming Statutes, 6-7-101 (e)

(4) Wyoming Statutes, 6-7-101 (viii)

(5) All Live and Online Poker Rooms in Wyoming

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