Wyoming tribe funded effort to kill gambling regulations; sides dispute who created the group

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A casino managed by the Northern Arapaho tribe gave thousands of dollars to a highly secretive organization trying to kill regulated gambling in Wyoming, records show, but tribal officials say they were duped by their lobbyist who set up the group.

The tribe fired the lobbyist, Mark Howell, on Monday. Howell — and a minority of tribal leadership — denied the officials’ version of events, saying they ordered the group’s creation.

According to disclosure reports filed Monday with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office, the Wind River Hotel and Casino put more than $80,000 into the Wyoming Public Policy Center, which formed prior to the 2019 legislative session. The group has spent more than $60,000 in lobbying expenses and engaged in a sophisticated digital multi-platform advertising campaign, which featured petition drives and issue-specific policy papers on gambling regulations.