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Wisconsin is an interesting place for casino-goers because, on its surface, the state appears to be absent of any real gambling opportunities. In reality, however, there is a wide range of casinos and other brick and mortar locations that can facilitate all types of casino games, from table games, to slots, and everything in between. Perhaps the best example of Wisconsin’s interesting gambling environment is the fact that pari-mutuel betting is available, however there are no racetracks at which you can wager.
Though confusing, the fact of the matter is that there are plenty of casino-style gambling options for you to pursue.
Bad River Lodge & Casino
Grindstone Creek Casino
Ho-Chunk Gaming Black River Falls
Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison
Ho-Chunk Gaming Nekoosa
Ho-Chunk Gaming Tomah
Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells
Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg
Hole in the Wall Casino & Hotel
Irene Moore Activity Center
Legendary Waters Resort & Casino
Lac Courte Oreilles Casino, Lodge & Convention Center
Lake of the Torches
Little Turtle Hertel Express
Mason Street Casino
Menominee Casino Resort
North Star Mohican Casino Resort
Mole Lake Casino & Lodge
Oneida Bingo Casino
Potawatomi Northern Lights Bingo & Casino
St. Croix Casino
Land-based gambling in Wisconsin is essentially all about the local tribal casinos, which shouldn’t be all that surprising since the Badger State doesn’t have any commercial gambling establishments. In addition, Wisconsin offers pari-mutuel betting, which is available at the local racetracks, as well as some forms of charitable gambling and a state-controlled lottery. Unfortunately, Wisconsin doesn’t have a regulated iGaming market, which means that offshore sites are the only option available to the local online gambling aficionados.
Since 1988, states have been required to negotiate casino compacts with Native American tribes. Wisconsin founded the Office of Indian Gaming Regulatory Compliance in 1992 – since then, casino gambling has been legal in the state.
Eleven tribes have since taken advantage of their opportunity to open a Class III casino, and Wisconsin is now home to more than 20 tribal casinos.
Commercial casinos that are not affiliated with a native tribe or located on tribal land remain illegal.
The largest gambling establishment is the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee. Located in the southwest part of Wisconsin, it hosts more than 2,500 slot machines, 100 table games (including blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat), a 20-table poker room open 24 hours a day, nine different places to eat and drink, a 500-seat theater, and a 381-room hotel.
There is also a casino in Madison and three more located in Green Bay. The establishments are spread out over 16 counties and stretch north to Lake Superior and west to Danbury near the Minnesota border.
Most casinos in the state are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Patrons must be at least 21 years old.
Online gambling is illegal in Wisconsin.
Thanks to a Federal Act that was passed towards the end of the 1980s, Native American tribes are allowed to pursue their own brick and mortar casinos so long as the state government approves it. In Wisconsin, the state has approved measures for tribal casinos. Unfortunately, this is the only type of casino that exists in the state. There are no other commercial casinos located anywhere in Wisconsin, but you can rest-assured knowing that there is a wealth of tribal gaming locations.
“Sports gaming is prohibited by the Wisconsin Constitution, state law, and is not allowed under the state-tribal compacts. Today’s Supreme Court ruling does not affect Wisconsin law.”
This statement came from Steven Michels, a Department of Administration spokesperson, following the Supreme Court’s ruling that permitted individual states to legalize sports gambling.
If Wisconsin was motivated to make sports betting legal, the easiest workaround would be to adjust the tribal gaming charter. This would not require any changes to the constitution. However, the state would only be required to renegotiate terms with its 11 tribes if it allowed others to engage in legal sports gambling.
There is no indication of this happening any time soon.
For the past two years, the state of Wisconsin has been trying to pass a law that would both legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports. The regulation side of things appears to be causing the holdup; most lawmakers as well as the state’s Attorney General are happy to consider DFS skill-based – and thus legal – gambling.
The most recent attempts were Senate Bill 436 and Assembly Bill 526, which both failed to pass in March of 2018 after a series of fiscal impact studies were released. It is unclear if and when another attempt to pass a law will be pursued.
In the meantime, lawmakers in Wisconsin have made no attempts to shut down access to DFS sites, so all major companies are operating within the state. Because all efforts have been geared toward legalizing DFS, the next expected step is full access.
Gambling on eSports remains illegal.
Horse racing is legal in Wisconsin. However, there are no more permanent tracks in operation. Harness racing has a long history in the state, and you can still attend live harness racing during the summer fair season.
Off-track betting is also legal in the state, but it’s difficult to come by as well. You can watch simulcast racing and place bets on horse and greyhound races from across the country at:
The last greyhound race to be held in Wisconsin was on December 31, 2009 at Dairyland Greyhound Track in Kenosha.
To place a pari-mutuel bet, you must be at least 18 years old.
Poker can be found at the following tribal casinos:
You must be at least 21 years old to play. There are no legal poker rooms located anywhere off tribal land. Unlike in many other states, poker games held at private homes are not exempt from this law, although prosecution appears non-existent.
The Wisconsin Lottery has been around since 1988 and uses its revenue to give state residents property tax relief. Along with scratch-offs, you can play the following draw games:
All tickets must be purchased at an authorized retail outlet, and all winnings must be claimed within 180 days. You must be at least 18 to play.
Along with several bingo halls and games hosted at tribal casinos, authorized non-profit charities can obtain a license to hold bingo games as fundraisers. The following regulations apply to such events:
Outside of the tribal casinos, bingo offerings in the state are few and far between.
When Wisconsin was officially sanctioned as a state back in the mid-1800s, there were strong anti-gambling sentiments. To this day, many of the statutes that were created in the 19th century are still in effect. Over the years there have been some small changes made to allow individual forms of gambling, however widespread, legalized casinos are something that still seem like a foreign concept to most Wisconsinites.
Pari-mutuel betting became legal around the same time that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was signed and approved. This was a big move for Wisconsin, but one that was about 50 years behind other states. To put this in perspective, most states that currently offer pari-mutuel betting at horse and greyhound tracks instituted those measures back in the 1930s. The move to legalize pari-mutuel wagering was, in theory, a good one. In practice, however, it ended up not having much of an impact on the gambling industry in the state seeing as, by 2009, all horse and dog tracks in the state had closed. To this day, pari-mutuel wagering exists, however there is nowhere to place bets.
In 1988, the Federal government of the United States passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Within a few years, Native American tribes had agreed to compacts with the state that allowed them to begin constructing brick and mortar casinos. There are now 11 tribal casinos in the state.
Though there are no commercial casinos that are not owned by Native tribes, the state does have card rooms where poker games can be played. This is a relief to some, but leaves a lot of other casino players out in the cold. As far as what the future holds, it does not seem as though Wisconsin is in any hurry to alter the legal scope of casinos and casino-style gambling.