Wisconsin Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

During the early days of Wisconsin’s gambling history, the gambling industry revolved around horse and dog races. Nowadays, legal gambling mainly focuses on tribal casinos with a few exceptions. The state is quite explicit about all forms of gambling and has strict laws for some of them, while other forms of gambling can pass unnoticed.

With the first Wisconsin statues from 1848, the state frowned upon gambling and deemed it illegal. After many years, in the 1970s, the citizens of Wisconsin voted to legalize charitable raffles and bingo. In 1987, the citizens voted to introduce the state lottery and pari-mutuel wagering into the state’s legal system.

Compacts with Indian tribes were signed in 1991 and 1992 and, with the Federal Indian Gaming Regulation Act of 1998, the negotiations with the state started. Tribal casinos offer class III games. However, there are no commercial casinos in the Badger State.

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Gambling Laws in Wisconsin — The Law Overview

Gambling in the Badger State is defined as a “bargain in which parties agree, dependent upon chance even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose something of value specified in the agreement.”

Not included in this definition is bingo or raffles, pari-mutuel wagering, state lottery, bona fide business transactions, contracts for the future purchase or sale of securities, life insurance, and prizes for the participant in a contest of endurance or skill. Any games of skills are legal to be bet on in Wisconsin, including snowmobile racing.

Wisconsin judges should follow the law by doing a “predominance test” to determine whether a particular game is allowed by weighing the importance of skill against the influence of luck. If the game is determined to be illegal, the act is considered a misdemeanor. The site with the purpose to place a bet or the gambling establishment will be punished with up to $1,000 fine or up to 90 days in jail.

Wisconsin generally permits gambling, and it has government divisions or gaming commissions that control industry practices like licensing employees and regulating games. States with these regulations will provide strict zoning regulations to separate racetracks and casinos from schools and residential areas.

Horse and Dog Racing

Horse and greyhound dog pari-mutuel betting was legalized in 1987, even though races were held long before that. The first legal track opened in 1990 and, at one moment, there were five operating tracks in Wisconsin. However, interest in races dropped over time because of the growing popularity of tribal casinos and the last track, Dairyland Greyhound Park, closed in 2009.

Betting on horse and greyhound dog races is still legal in Wisconsin, as there are no laws that prohibit it. However, there are also no running tracks for placing a bet. Off-track betting is illegal. Betting on horse and dog races online is legal, and it is the only way to bet on races in Wisconsin.

Casinos

As previously mentioned, there are no commercial casinos in Wisconsin. However, there are eleven tribes in the Badger State and plenty of tribal casinos to visit. Most casinos offer class III games and a full-range of playing options. Table games are possible at casinos approved through local referendums.

 

Those games include craps, roulette, blackjack, Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Let it Ride, and Mississippi Stud. Live poker games are legal at any casino where table games are licensed. The legal gambling age for casinos is 21 years.

Charity Games

A charity organization that wishes to organize a charity gambling event must exist for three years and have proof of previous charitable causes before hosting a charity gambling event. Charities can organize bingos and raffles with the individual maximum prize of $500, and the total prizes must not exceed $2,500. The games cannot be held for more than five consecutive games. The minimum gambling age is 18 years old.

Lottery

The lottery in the Badger State became legal in 1988. The Wisconsin lottery includes scratch-off tickets, pull-tabs, and lotto drawings. It is entirely permissible and the minimum age to buy tickets is 18 years old. There are more than a thousand places to buy lottery tickets in Wisconsin, but it is not allowed to sell them over the web. The lottery may join multi-state jackpot drawings for lotto games.

Social Gaming

Social gaming is illegal in the state of Wisconsin. If you place a bet anywhere outside regulated areas, you are committing a crime. Private games at private properties are unlawful and are punishable with up to $1,000 and/or up to 90 days in jail.

Online Gambling

When gambling laws in Wisconsin were written, they did not include online gambling, so this is a bit of a grey area. The State of Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau referenced it as “An area of growing concern for state and federal law enforcement authorities is wagering via computer over the Internet. Operators, who often are based in foreign countries where the activities are legal, have set up “virtual casinos” that take bets on sporting events, conduct lotteries, and permit on-line customers to play simulated casino-type games. There is no guarantee that the sites are being managed honestly. Officials warn of increased social problems if every computer potentially can serve as a mini-casino, especially if children have access to gambling opportunities. The National Association of Attorneys General has urged the federal government to ban all on-line gambling because regulation is impractical. Wisconsin Attorney General Doyle has filed lawsuits against Internet gambling operators.”

Therefore, online gambling in Wisconsin is considered illegal, and it is safer not to do it. Offshore gambling should not be done within the state’s borders as well. However, there are low chances of getting caught while you play an online game at your home since authorities prefer to focus on capturing illegal gambling operations.

Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily Fantasy Sports are technically not legal in the state of Wisconsin. Most people can play FanDuel, DraftKings, Yahoo!, and Fantasy Draft without the fear of being caught since authorities do not find it a priority to arrest these acts of violations. Wisconsin is debating whether DFS are games of chance or skill. Games of chance are illegal in the state, so legislators are pushing the bill on legalizing DFS as a game of skill.

Where to Gamble in Wisconsin?

There are plenty of tribal casinos to choose from for Wisconsin residents and visitors. We have selected a few of them that you can choose depending on your interest.

Potawatomi Hotel and Casino

The casino is owned by the Forest County Potawatomi Community and located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The casino opened in 1991 while offering several entertainment acts and 20 poker rooms, among other things. The location had two renovations in 2008 and 2017.

The casino floor is big enough for 2,500 players, and it offers over 3,000 slot machines and more than 100 poker and table games. The hotel has more than 500 rooms and suites to provide its guests, along with a spa, theatre, meeting rooms, and more. There is a 24/7 poker room with a mix of games such as Limit and No-Limit Texas Hold ’Em, Seven Card Stud, and Pot-Limit Omaha.

Ho-Chunk Casino

The casino is owned by the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and located in the Town of Delton, Wisconsin. The casino floor offers more than 300 rooms for playing with table games such as BlackJack, Craps, Roulette, and EZ Baccarat, and carnival games like Mississippi Stud, Three-Card Poker, and Four-Card Poker.

They also offer a resort section with more than 300 hotel rooms and suites, an RV park, a convention center, a ballroom, and more. They also provide a supervised children’s entertainment facility with childcare. The location has multiple restaurants so that you can choose meals from a classy steak to a buffet.

Mole Lake Casino

The Mole Lake casino advertises itself as a complete entertainment destination. It is located near Crandon, Wisconsin. The location offers a lodge with 75 rooms and suites, restaurants, a conference center, a swimming pool, and a fitness center.

The casino floor offers modern slot machines, fast-paced bingo games, and table games. There are not a lot of table games, and they only provide BlackJack and 21 War BlackJack games. Hence, if you are strictly a BlackJack player, this is the right option for you. Moreover, they offer plenty of promotions like chances to win cash prizes. Additionally, they have special events for seniors and multiple bingo games.

FAQ

Is online gambling allowed in Wisconsin?

Technically, it is illegal, and it is safer not to place any online bets.

What is the legal gambling age for players in Wisconsin?

The legal playing age for charity games and lottery is 18 years, while for casinos it is 21 years.

Is betting on greyhound dog races allowed?

It is legal, but there have been no active tracks since 2009.

Is horse racing legal in Wisconsin?

Yes, it is, but there are no active tracks for horse racing.

Are Daily Fantasy Sports legal in Wisconsin?

They are still not legal, but DFS games are active in the state.

What games can you gamble on in Wisconsin?

You can bet on charity games such as bingo and raffles, the state lottery, table games in tribal casinos, and horse and greyhound dog races.