Wisconsin Gambling Sites - Laws and Regulations
Wisconsin has a handful of legal gambling activities, including every casino game you can think of as well as a state lottery.
But are Wisconsin gambling sites legal?
Can you go to jail if you gamble online in Wisconsin?
In addition to answering these questions, we'll also cover:
- The legality and safety of gambling online
- Land based gambling laws
- Where you can gamble in Wisconsin
- Additional resources
- Wisconsin's gambling law history
- The future of gambling in Wisconsin
If you're interested in Wisconsin gambling sites and the laws that apply to them, this post is for you.
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Online Gambling and Wisconsin Law
Is online gambling legal in Wisconsin?
As with many other states, online gambling is a gray area in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin's gambling laws weren't originally written to cover online gambling. These laws are general, but probably apply, meaning online gambling in Wisconsin is probably illegal.
Here's what the State of Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau says about Internet gambling:
"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."
Can I get arrested for gambling online in Wisconsin?
Getting arrested for gambling online in Wisconsin is unlikely.
Wisconsin doesn't seem to focus on residents that are gambling online. Instead, they seem more focused solely on residents who are starting online casinos or online bookies. Running a gambling business is illegal in Wisconsin unless you're licensed to do so. Their enforcement activities target businesspeople making a profit from such activities, not players losing their money to these businesses.
Are daily fantasy sports legal in Wisconsin?
Daily fantasy sports are not technically legal in Wisconsin yet.
There's a push to legalize daily fantasy sports though. No law enforcement has acted against residents playing daily fantasy sports.
State Representative Tyler Vorpagel is putting together a bill that prevents kids or minors from playing daily fantasy sports. This bill would also protect adult players if a website suddenly went out of business.
There's plenty of debate about daily fantasy sports. The debate centers around whether it's a game of skill or chance. Games of chance are illegal in Wisconsin.
If the legislators determine that skill is the dominant factor in daily fantasy sports, legalized Wisconsin gambling sites-at least those related to daily fantasy sports-will likely become a reality sooner rather than later.
Is Wisconsin going to legalize online gaming?
Other Wisconsin gambling sites might be legalized soon, too.
Right now, tribal casinos are the only type of casino allowed in Wisconsin. These tribal casinos could push for regulated online gambling, and if they succeed, casino gambling sites in the state could be legalized.
There's not much of a push for regulated Wisconsin casino gambling sites right now, though.
You might, however, choose an offshore casino through the Internet. Many of the casino sites we recommend on our site are happy to do business with citizens of Wisconsin. The legality of playing at such a site is questionable at best, and we, of course, recommend you obey all the laws in your jurisdiction.
We'd be remiss in our duties as advisors if we failed to mention that no one in Wisconsin has ever been arrested or prosecuted for playing blackjack, slots or poker on the Internet. It's unlikely that you'll be the first gambler to face such action.
How do I choose a safe and quality offshore gaming site?
Game Variety - Check out the game variety offered by the site to see if they offer games you're familiar with and want to play.
Tournaments - If you're interested in participating in tournaments, check out the tournament schedule to see how often they host tournaments.
Bonus Terms & Conditions - Read the terms and conditions for the sign-up bonus to find out how much money you have to wager on their site before it becomes available to you.
Read Reviews - Read site reviews to get the other players input on the site to see what they do and don't like about it.
Customer Complaints - Do an Internet search with the word "complaint" plus the name of the site you're interested in to find past member complaints.
Deposit Options - Check the deposit options to see if the site accepts a form of payment you're familiar with.
Contact Customer Service - Talk to a customer service agent to evaluate how quickly they get back to you and how courteous they are.
Restricted States - Check the site to see if they allow residents from your state to participate on their site.
Licensing Jurisdiction - Located the licensing jurisdiction to find out the site's regulations and fees.
Longevity of Business - Look into how long the site has been in business. Sites that have been in business longer have a steady flow of loyal members.
Breaking down what exactly is or isn't legal in Wisconsin. Gambling Venues in Wisconsin
Where to gamble in the state of Wisconsin. The History of Gaming Laws in Wisconsin
A brief history of Wisconsin laws regarding gambling. Additional Information
Still have questions? Check out these links. The Future of Gambling in Wisconsin
What does the future of gambling look like in Wisconsin?
More Gambling Laws in Wisconsin
Casino games: Legal at Indian casinos only
The only casinos in Wisconsin are tribal ones. Plenty of them are spread throughout the state. All are approved for both table games and slot machines.
According to the Department of Administration:
"The State of Wisconsin has entered into gaming compact agreements with all eleven (11) federally recognized Tribes of Indians in Wisconsin, as permitted by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, 25 U.S.C. sec. 2701 (Act). Tribal/State gaming compacts are negotiated between a Tribe and the State to set forth the rules, regulations and conditions under which a Tribe may conduct Class III gaming, as defined in the Act."
While each tribe has their own compact, they're all cleared for Class 3 gaming.
Tribal Gaming in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau defines class 3 gaming as:
"These types of games would include banking card games, electronic or electromechanical games of chance, including slot machines, pari-mutuel racing, jai alai and, generally, all high-stakes, casino-style games."
Sports and race betting: Legal, no active tracks.
Greyhound racing is legal in Wisconsin, but no race tracks operate there.
Dog racing started in 1990. At its peak, there were 5 tracks in Wisconsin, but interest in dog racing has since declined, and the last track closed in 2009.
Horse racing is also legal in Wisconsin, but there are no operational horse tracks, either.
Here's what the Legal Gambling in Wisconsin informational paper says about race track betting:
"This amendment specifies that the Wisconsin Constitution's general gambling prohibition "shall not prohibit pari-mutuel on-track betting as provided by law." The term "pari-mutuel" does not refer specifically to racetrack betting or to any particular game or event upon which a bet is made. Rather, it describes a method by which the payout of a wager is determined. Under a pari-mutuel betting system, bettors wager against each other rather than against "the house" as in casino betting."
Simulcasting is legal in Wisconsin.
Here's what the Legal Gambling in Wisconsin informational paper 77 says about simulcasting:
"Simulcasting refers to conducting wagering at a Wisconsin-licensed racetrack on horse and dog races that are broadcast from a racetrack in another state. State licensees are also permitted to simulcast their races to any legal, out-of-state wagering entity"
Wisconsin does have a state-regulated lottery.
According to the Wisconsin Lottery website:
"Over the years, the Wisconsin Lottery has generated more than $12.5 BILLION in total revenue. At least 94% of that revenue has gone back to the people of Wisconsin. That money stays in Wisconsin's economy for the good of everyone.
The Wisconsin Lottery has generated more than $3 billion for Property Tax relief since 1988. "
Wisconsin lottery games include:
- Mega Millions
- 5 Card Cash
- Badger 5
- Pick 3
- Pick 4
- Pull-tab games
- Scratch games
Bingo: Charitable games only
Charitable bingo and raffle games are allowed in Wisconsin.
Here are the limitations, according to the Wisconsin Bingo Law Requirements:
"A bingo license allows an organization to hold an unlimited number of bingo occasions per year. There is no limit on the number of games played at a bingo occasion. However, only $2,500 in prizes may be given at any one bingo occasion sponsored by a licensed organization. $500 is the maximum prize for any single game other than progressive jackpot."
If an organization doesn't want to get a full bingo license, there's an option that allows organizations to hold bingo for a limited amount of time.
Here's what the Wisconsin Bingo Law Requirements say about limited period bingo occasions:
"A limited period bingo license allows an organization to conduct bingo for a period of not more than four out of five consecutive days in any one license year at a festival, bazaar, picnic, carnival, or similar function."
If you have a limited period bingo occasion license or a full-time bingo license, bingo cards cannot be sold for more than $1 each.
Social gambling: Illegal
Here's what the State of Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau says about private gambling or social gambling:
"A bet is a bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose something of value specified in the agreement" (Section 945.01, Wisconsin Statutes). State law provides that a person who makes a bet or participates in gambling activity, other than commercial gambling, has committed a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both."
This means anything you place a bet on that's not in a regulated area is illegal. This includes home poker games-your home is not a state-regulated area.
Poker games at the tribal casinos are legal, though.
Gambling Venues in Wisconsin
The only casinos in Wisconsin are tribal owned and located on reservation land. 11 federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin operate casinos. Some of these tribes operate multiple casinos.
Here are some of the top-rated casinos in Wisconsin:
1 - Ho-Chunk Casino
S3214 County Highway BD
Baraboo, WI 53913
Phone number: (608) 356-6210
2 - North Star Mohican Casino Resort
W12180 Co Rd A
Bowler, WI 54416
Phone number: (715) 787-3110
3 - Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
1721 W Canal St
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Phone number: (800) 729-7244
4 - Menominee Casino Resort
Keshena, WI 54135
Phone Number: (800) 343-7778
5 - Lake of the Torches Resort Casino
510 Old Abe Rd
Lac Du Flambeau, WI 54538
Phone number: (715) 588-7070
6 - Oneida Casino West Mason
2522 W Mason St
Green Bay, WI 54303
Phone number: (920) 494-4500
7 - Mole Lake Casino Lodge
Crandon, WI 54520
Phone number: (715) 478-5290
History of Gambling in Wisconsin
Charitable gambling, --including bingo and raffle games, --are legalized.
The first lottery ticket is sold.
Compacts with 11 tribes are signed. These allow casinos with all casino table games and slot machines to be built on their reservation land.
An attempt to legalize casino gaming on non-reservation land is turned down by Governor Kim Doyle.
Pari-mutuel betting on horse and greyhound racing is legalized. Wisconsin lottery is signed into law.
The Wisconsin lottery is limited to scratch off, pull tab, and numbers drawing games.
The Wisconsin lottery adds PowerBall and Mega Millions to their games list.
Wisconsin Lottery - This link takes you to the Wisconsin lottery page where you can learn about the history of the Wisconsin lottery, the current games and other information regarding the lottery.
Tribal Gaming in Wisconsin - This was prepared by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, and covers tribal gaming in Wisconsin is depth.
Legal Gambling in Wisconsin - This was prepared by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, and covers all legal forms of gambling allowed in Wisconsin.
The Future & Your Views
Wisconsin has legalized almost every form of gambling, short of non-tribal casinos and Wisconsin gambling sites. They have a state lottery, bingo, table games and slot machines at their tribal casinos.
While pari-mutuel betting is legalized in Wisconsin, there are no active tracks for horse or dog racing in the state.
The future of Wisconsin gambling could be bright. At least one state representative has made a recent push to legalize daily fantasy sports. It's possible that daily fantasy sports could be legalized within the next few years.
Online Wisconsin gambling sites are still technically illegal as of right now, but if tribal casinos band together to push for regulated gambling sites through their casino, it's possible that Wisconsin gambling sites could be available in the near future.