Gambling, unregulated gambling that is, has always played an out-sized role in the legends and lore of the American West. Every Western film, it seems, includes a shot of men playing poker in a rugged old saloon without a the burden of a state gambling commission to oversee the good times.

These days, if you replace the poker game with a generic gambling machine, and the rugged old saloon with a truck stop, you’ve just described the current state of regulated/unregulated gambling in the Western state of Wyoming. And, for the time being anyways, things are going to stay exactly how they are when it comes to regulated gambling.

According to a recent report by the Associated Press, Wyoming’s Joint Committee on Travel, Recreation and Cultural Resources has decided not to establish a Wyoming State Gambling Commission. This decision comes despite the fact that the state may have as many as 400 unregulated gambling devices currently operating in places like truck stops and small convenience stores.

That number is growing and represents a pile of tax revenue that state leaders are leaving on the table. By letting the unregulated machines play one, the state could be losing millions in tax revenue each year.

But Wyoming is Wyoming and Republican state Sen. Ogden Driskill, of Devils Tower, isn’t optimistic about the chances of gambling commission bill passing any time soon saying, “My prediction is we’re going to come back next year with nothing passed, and we’re going to be dealing with something between 800 and 1,200 machines. It’s getting harder and harder to slow that down.”


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