Wyoming news briefs for March 30

Online sports wagering legalization clears Legislature

CASPER — A bill to legalize online sports wagering in Wyoming for the first time cleared both the House and Senate. 

House Bill 133 directs the Wyoming Gaming Commission to regulate the activity by setting up rules and imposing fees and penalties. The commission will have until September to draft the rules. 

Supporters of opening up online sports betting have said the activity already occurs in the state illicitly; Wyoming is simply missing out on needed money. 

“(The bill) tries to stop the black market that is taking place now, put consumer protections into the bill, and then allow people in Wyoming ... to place bets,” Sen. Jeff Wasserburger, R-Gillette, said in support of the bill during its initial reading in the Senate last week. “Then it has a 10-percent tax on that bet.” 

In a fiscal note, the Legislative Service Office said it was tricky to estimate exactly how much revenue legalization of sports betting would create. But the Gaming Commission estimates the state’s sports wagering market has a $449 million value in Wyoming. 

The legislation would transfer a portion of any revenue generated from the gambling program to the Department of Health to provide resources for gambling addiction treatment. 

Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, proposed a successful amendment on Monday to update permit application requirements, but otherwise the bill sailed through the Senate on its final read. 

The bill passed its third reading in the Senate in a 24-5 vote, with one member excused. 

The legislation still needs a signature from Wyoming’s governor before becoming law.


Campbell County prison inmate dies 

GILLETTE — An inmate in Wyoming prison from Campbell County has died at the Wyoming Medical Center of an unknown cause.

Clarence Hinckley, 57, died Saturday. An autopsy is planned to determine the cause of death, according to the Wyoming Department of Corrections.

Hinckley was sentenced Jan. 2, 2020, to five to 12 years for possession with intent to deliver meth. District Judge Michael N. “Nick” Deegan also sentenced him to three to five years for possessing meth, which was to be served concurrently.

A jury had found him guilty of the crimes Sept. 24, as well as misdemeanor counts of possessing hydrocodone, oxycodone, marijuana and morphine.

Hinckley was born Feb. 14, 1964, in Cheyenne.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested him at his mobile home in Antelope Trailer Court on Feb. 25, 2019, on warrants for failure to appear on a no insurance charge and on a municipal warrant. They could see marijuana and what they thought was cocaine in his room and applied for a search warrant.

They found a marijuana pipe, marijuana, a baggie with 5.56 grams of meth, a digital scale, packaging material and three hydrocodone and two OxyContin pills. In a safe, they found another digital scale with meth residue, packaging material and $2,400 in cash, according to court documents.


Reservation school records significant academic improvement

RIVERTON — When Frank No Runner came on as superintendent of St. Stephen's Indian School in 2015, he said the institution was at risk of losing its accreditation.

His first day was July 7, 2015 -- just "a matter of weeks" before St. Stephen's was scheduled for a performance review through AdvancED, a non-profit organization that offers accreditation for educational institutions.

"We were not ready," No Runner said, attributing the oversight "most likely to the revolving door of administrations coming and going" at St. Stephen's before he began his tenure there.

The 2015 review at St. Stephen's resulted in a score of 174.91 on the AdvancED Index of Educational Quality -- well below the AE Global Network average of 274.14 -- and the school was put on a one-year improvement review "or they were going to revoke our accreditation for our school," No Runner said.

"Our school, according to experts, was not a good place for students to learn," he said.

Since then, No Runner said, his team has worked diligently to implement recommended school improvement strategies, and this year St. Stephen's earned "Turnaround School" status, with an IEQ score of 315 -- almost 35 points above the global average.

"This is awesome," No Runner said. "I have worked for (this) my entire life -- to lead a good school on an American Indian reservation, which is always the lowest-achieving ethnic group in the nation."