Wisconsin may be “America’s Dairyland,” but it’s no Disneyland for online gambling options. Wisconsin does have a selection of gambling options for residents and visitors to the state, but gambling online is not part of the equation. There are tribal casinos, a state lottery, and charitable bingo games. Horse betting is also legal in the state, although oddly, the state has no racetracks and no off-track betting facilities.
Wisconsinites have in the past exhibited a strange appetite for sketchy gray market snowmobile race betting, too, but state legislators have never made it legal. It is not fair to say Wisconsin is completely devoid of gambling. It’s whether or not Wisconsin has an appetite for online gambling, and the answer to that is not really. Legal online casinos in Wisconsin don’t exist. To play online slots and the like, Wisconsinites have the option of sweepstakes casinos. Sports betting in Wisconsin became a real probability in July of 2021 when the Oneida Nation signed an amended compact with the state to take bets in its casinos.
For now, Wisconsin online gambling is not part of the overall gambling market. Check back here to see how the curds eventually get made as Wisconsin attempts to legalize online casinos.
Play online slots or casino games in Wisconsin
Is online gambling legal in Wisconsin?
No, there is no legal real money online gambling in Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s gambling laws are like those in many states, in that the law is slow to adapt to new technologies. Wisconsin’s gambling statutes offer a very meat-and-potatoes approach to the subject, so to speak. The fact that commercial casinos are not available makes venturing online to gamble a low priority.
Are online casinos legal in Wisconsin?
No. However, legal alternative options like sweepstakes and social casinos do exist in Wisconsin. You can play online social casino games in Wisconsin at Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots. Players seeking a top sweepstakes site would appreciate Funzpoints. These sites mirror the traditional legal online casinos from brands like BetMGM and Golden Nugget. Sweepstakes and social casinos include slots like Stampede Fury, Lightning Nudge and Dancing Gold, table games, and video poker.
Can you play online poker in Wisconsin?
Nope, real money online poker is not legal in Wisconsin. Much like Wisconsin online casinos, there are no legal online poker rooms for play in the state. However, players can play on-site at the poker rooms inside tribal casinos or try a sweepstakes site like Global Poker. Global Poker operates much like Chumba, but while it does have a few online slots, its main purpose is online poker games such as Texas Hold’em or a unique game called Crazy Pineapple.
Will Wisconsin regulate online gambling in the future?
Wisconsin state Rep. Tyler Vorpagel is trying. He has proposed legal online fantasy sports and sports betting on a couple of occasions, most recently in 2018, but nothing has passed. His 2017 bill would have established a regulatory framework for sportsbooks to exist in Wisconsin. Overall, this represents movement, at least from a portion of the electorate in Wisconsin, toward a legal framework for online gambling. So there is hope for the future.
Wisconsin’s path to legal sports betting and expanded gambling, in general, is complicated. Why? The measure would not only require passage in the House and Senate in consecutive sessions, but it would also require changing the state constitution and a voter referendum. That’s a lot of hoops to jump through.
Legal online gambling vs. offshore sites
Now, some sites will proclaim that online casinos are available in Wisconsin. This is deceptive, however. No matter the sites’ promises of legality and shiny appearance, offshore gambling sites in Wisconsin are illegal, and they’re risky. Here are some of the potential issues:
- No oversight of sites where US laws can’t reach.
- Offshore sites resort to dubious payment methods including cryptocurrency. This is not safe.
- Payment of winnings may take six to eight weeks or longer, if ever. There’s no guarantee that you will receive your winnings or even deposits back.
- There’s also no guarantee that the games are fair. If something should go wrong, your support options are limited.
Bottom line: A site that offers online casino games in Wisconsin is based offshore, is not safe and you are better off not taking the risk. Be safe, and play on one of the sweepstakes casinos mentioned above.
Who regulates gambling in Wisconsin?
The Wisconsin Lottery Board regulates what non-tribal gambling there is in the state. The Wisconsin Office of Indian Gaming and Regulatory Compliance regulates tribal casinos. The Native American tribes are considered sovereign nations.
What is the legal gambling age in Wisconsin?
The legal gambling age in Wisconsin is 18 for bingo and other legal games, but 21 for all forms of gambling inside tribal casinos.
Responsible gambling resources
According to information from the American Gaming Association, “There are no statutory funding requirements outlined in the tribal-state compacts or tribal gaming ordinances,” including self-exclusion, to deal with problem gambling in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Department of Administration notes that “information and assistance regarding problem gambling may be obtained from the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling, www.wi-problemgamblers.org, or 1-800-426-2535, 24 hours a day.
Patrons may also request a self-ban at most Wisconsin tribal gambling facilities to prevent them from gambling at that location in the future. Complimentary alcoholic drinks are not available at tribal casinos in Wisconsin, and gambling ordinances mandate that the visibly intoxicated shall not be allowed to gamble.
Types of legal gambling in Wisconsin
Yes, online gambling in Wisconsin is not a thing, but there is a fair share of legal Wisconsin gambling opportunities available.
- Tribal casinos
- Pari-mutuel simulcast horse betting
- Online horse betting
- Charitable bingo and raffles
- Sweepstakes casinos
- Social gaming
Only one casino, Lake of the Torches, offers a free-play, self-branded site where players can try the casino’s roster of slot machines (or similar) for free. Otherwise, the options for social gaming in the state are much like those in other states. Slotomania, Big Fish, Double Down Casino and Zynga Poker offer players the opportunity to play slot machines or poker games without risking a dime. But don’t confuse these with sweepstakes online casinos. Social gaming is literally that — games for social play and none of the games bear any real money value. Luckland Slots and other sweepstakes sites are modeled after the sweepstakes laws in most states.
Finally, Wisconsin offers residents and visitors the option to buy state and multi-state lottery tickets, such as the multi-state Powerball and MegaMillions games. The state began offering a lottery in 1988, though no online lottery is available. Somewhat unusually, the revenue from the ticket sales goes to property tax relief for Wisconsin residents. Almost every other state that offers a lottery ties the proceeds to funding educational resources.
Are there casinos in Wisconsin?
Yes, but there are only tribal casinos in Wisconsin. Eleven tribes have entered into compacts with the state to operate 27 gambling facilities. The tribes began signing these deals in 1991.
Tribal gambling commissions and the Wisconsin Office of Indian Gaming and Regulatory Compliance regulate the casinos. The Menominee, Ho-Chunk, Potawatomi and Lac du Flambeau tribes renegotiated 25-year extensions in 2003 after the state Supreme Court ruled that the limitless compacts they’d just renegotiated were unconstitutional. The Stockbridge-Munsee, Oneida and St. Croix tribes now have 99-year terms.
The Ho-Chunk Nation has the most gambling facilities in Wisconsin. And the Potawatomi Nation has the largest casino in the state; its bingo casino in Milwaukee features more than 3,100 slot machines, 100 table games, a large poker room, and all the comforts of a typical resort property.
Here is a list of tribal casinos in Wisconsin:
|Ho-Chunk Gaming Black River Falls||Ho-Chunk Nation||Black River Falls|
|Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison||Ho-Chunk Nation||Madison|
|Ho-Chunk Gaming Nekoosa||Ho-Chunk Nation||Nekoosa|
|Ho-Chunk Gaming Tomah||Ho-Chunk Nation||Tomah|
|Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells||Ho-Chunk Nation||Wisconsin Dells|
|Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg||Ho-Chunk Nation||Wittenberg|
|Grindstone Creek Casino||Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin||Hayward|
|Sevenwinds Casino, Lodge & Convention Center||Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin||Hayward|
|Potawatomi Carter Casino Hotel||Forest County Potawatomi Indian Tribe||Wabeno|
|Potawatomi Bingo Casino||Forest County Potawatomi Indian Tribe||Milwaukee|
|Bad River Lodge and Casino||Bad River Band of Chippewa Indians||Ashland|
|Lake of the Torches Resort Casino||Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa||Lac Du Flambeau|
|Menominee Casino-Bingo-Hotel||Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin||Keshena|
|Oneida Main Casino||Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin||Green Bay|
|Oneida Mason Street Casino||Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin||Green Bay|
|IMAC Casino/Bingo/OTB||Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin||Green Bay|
|Oneida Casino Travel Center||Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin||Pulaski|
|Oneida One-Stop Packerland||Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin||Green Bay|
|Legendary Waters Resort and Casino||Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin||Bayfield|
|Mole Lake Casino||Sokaogon Band of Lake Superior Chippewa||Crandon|
|St. Croix Casino Danbury||St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin||Danbury|
|St. Croix Casino Hertel||St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin||Webster|
|St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake||St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin||Turtle Lake|
|North Star Mohican Casino Resort||Stockbridge-Munsee Band of the Mohican Tribe||Bowler|
Horse betting in Wisconsin
Yes, Wisconsin horse betting is legal … with a caveat. Licensed horse racing and pari-mutuel betting are legal in Wisconsin, but there are no racetracks. Making matters more frustrating, off-track betting is illegal and Wisconsin is one of 18 jurisdictions where TVG is not legal. TwinSpires, however, is available for those who wish to bet the ponies.
History of gambling in Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s history with regard to gambling is a conventional one. Its reluctance to implement gambling seems to have been a decidedly literal interpretation of early laws.
The state’s path to legalization mirrors the path of many other states. Like many states, its first foray into gambling was racing. Racing of any type has always been legal in Wisconsin, but wagering on the races, be they horse, dog or car, was made illegal by a law dating back to 1897.
Before 1965, the Wisconsin Constitution held that “the legislature shall never authorize any lottery…” This was taken to mean any type of gambling for years, but between 1965 and 1987, four constitutional amendments altered the landscape.
From Tribal Gaming in Wisconsin: “The first, ratified in 1965, allowed the Legislature to create an exception to permit state residents to participate in various promotional contests. In 1973 and 1977, amendments were passed authorizing the Legislature to allow charitable bingo games and raffles, respectively. In 1987, two amendments were adopted authorizing: (a) the creation of a state-operated lottery, with proceeds to be used for property tax relief; and (b) privately operated pari-mutuel on-track betting as provided by law.”
However, the lure of tax revenue led to the introduction of numerous bills over the years to legalize wagering on races. Due to opponents of gambling, however, the bills failed for 90 years. But supporters of gambling never gave up. They were finally rewarded with a constitutional amendment in 1987 that legalized gambling in the state.
Normally, this would be a happy ending — but even though five dog racing tracks eventually opened, all have now closed. Currently, the only news about racing in Wisconsin is questions about how to redevelop the former sites.
Around the same time as racing legalization, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act became federal law. This act allowed federally recognized Native American tribes to negotiate compacts with their states to build and operate full Vegas-style casinos on reservation lands. Wisconsin is home to 11 such tribes, and the state government began to negotiate with the tribes soon after the bill’s passage.