Wisconsin Sports Betting

With the removal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) as a federal obstacle thanks to a groundbreaking Supreme Court ruling in 2018 following New Jersey’s challenge, the sports betting landscape in the United States has experienced a surge in legislative activities and implementation across numerous states. Wisconsin, also revered as the proud Badger State, remains among those yet to explore the potentially profitable realm of sports betting. The state has historically maintained a liberal stance towards gambling, allowing tribal casinos to operate and offer traditional gambling activities to its inhabitants. Nonetheless, Wisconsin has categorized sports betting as an area largely off-limits, primarily to adhere to the restrictive nature of Federal Laws. Despite the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate the federal roadblock presented by PASPA, there are still specific challenges at the state level that hinder the legalization and financial establishment of sports betting within the state.

The presence of a vibrant sports scene provides a compelling incentive for the respective authorities to step towards legalizing sports betting in the state. The state teams like Milwaukee and Green Bay command a passionate and active fan base, issuing a peak in the immense potential of sports gambling in Wisconsin.

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State Laws

The restrictive nature of the Federal laws has had its say on Wisconsin’s betting area for ages. The laws introduced sports gambling as an illegal practice within the United States, with Nevada being the only exception in the process. The laws cramped the states for the gambling practices, with a major sight on the sports betting as it had the perception of being the breeding grounds for illegal practices violating certain federal laws.

The Federal Wire Act has been the chief contributor towards the illegitimate status of sports gambling in Wisconsin. The law was promulgated in 1961, with a major focus on countering the facet of interstate gambling in the US. It introduced restrictions on US citizens on placing wagers and bets with the US-based sportsbooks located across the state lines. The law initially revolved around the wired transmissions of bets which were the case back then, but with the advancement of technology and the origination of online sports betting platforms, the law extended its effect on the online US sportsbooks as well. The law was interpreted by the Department of Justice in September 2011, which opinioned that all the gambling practices not falling in the scope of sports gambling would have immunity from the federal law, hence branding the Wire Act as the major hindrance in legitimizing the US-based sportsbook to accept bets across the states. However, it failed to cover the domain of offshore betting platforms, providing Wisconsinites a door to participate in the venture of online sports betting.

The Bradley Act commonly referred to as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has had a far-reaching impact on the sports gambling scene in Wisconsin. The act has been dismantled by the Supreme Court but it is fitting to give it an appearance here as it is primarily responsible for the absence of a coherent sports gambling atmosphere in the state. The act was passed in 1992 and banned the states to participate in gambling related to any sports activity whatsoever. However, the act was demolished by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it violated the states’ right to operate and regulate the business in their boundaries. The decision has empowered the states to legislate the sports betting as per their wishes, however, Wisconsin is yet to enter the scene.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is the legislation regulating the practice of online betting. The act focuses on the banking institutions and the transaction pertaining to the betting, ensuring that dubious gambling financial activities are prohibited and the unlawful internet gambling is brought within the eyes of the authorities. The law does not restrict sports betting; rather it streamlines the online betting portals, only considering those options that correspond to the US betting laws. The law is not just restricted to the US sportsbooks online but also applies to the offshore betting companies dishing out their services in the United States.

The definition of gambling in the Wisconsin laws is derived from the concept of ‘bet’ as section 945.01 of Wisconsin State Legislature defines it as “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.” This is significant to note as all forms of sports betting are deemed illegal in the state with the exception of the offshore sports betting platforms. The current legislature suggests that in order to make it legal, a bill would have to be passed by state’s legislature houses, the Assembly and Senate, in back-to-back sessions, which would then be followed by a statewide referendum, with the sentiment to undergo such process evident in the words of Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha for Wisconsin State Journal, “it may be an appropriate time for the state to comprehensively evaluate our laws and weigh if further modification is necessary.”

Sports Betting Options

As mentioned, any kind of sports betting has been deemed illegal by Wisconsin State laws with sufficient penalties if they are violated. However, online betting provides a breath of fresh air for the Wisconsinites who have an inclination towards sports gambling and want to be a part of the culture. The State and the US federal laws place sanctions on the US sports betting online but happen to be silent on the utilization of the offshore platforms, provided they are regulated. The rise of reputable betting platforms providing services in the United States has piqued the interest of the Wisconsin residents as well. With a variety of options available for the bettors to bet on, especially with the vigorous sports scene on the display, offshore companies provide a genuine option for the bettors to utilize and get the gambling experience. However, it is to be noted that not all the online betting services are trustworthy and it is significant to undertake complete research before pursuing an option.

Horse racing has been a huge thing in the State, which naturally accumulated interest in horse racing bets. The state once had five pari-mutuel race tracks operating simultaneously. The state permits its residents to physically wager at horse tracks, however, with the closing off of the tracks, the option is replaced with the online platforms. You can place your wagers on trustworthy and effective betting platforms like TwinSpires and AmWager who comply fully with the federal laws and regulations making them an absolutely legal proposition for you. These sites provide a real-world gambling experience as they have agreements with all the horse and greyhound racing tracks across the US, providing a comprehensive set of options for you to bet on. Moreover, the bets placed are channeled to each track betting pool, with the winner being paid at full track odds. These sites further complement the aspect of convenience as they can live telecast the races happening in distant places, providing you a quality option to place wagers at your comfort. You just have to sign-up for an account and a whole world of horse race betting unravels in front of you.

Besides the horse race betting, Wisconsin also presents the facility of fantasy sports for the residents. The aspect of fantasy sports is distinguishable from gambling as it banks on the skill of the player rather than the element of luck. It is commonly referred to as a skill game as it prominently features the skill set of the players involved. This is different from conventional gambling in the sense that it requires you to draft a virtual team from the league and then feature it against an opponents’ team. You earn points as your team stacks numbers based on the performance of its players in reality. You would win the betting process if your team can gain more points than the opponents’ drafted team. This gives you more control over the rewards as it is based on your skill to draft a balanced team. You just have to log in to a fantasy sports platform and start playing in an attempt to get instant payouts. The two super platforms for fantasy sports are FanDuel and DraftKings.

Wisconsin has the infrastructure available to incorporate the aspect of sports betting in the state. The permission for the tribal casinos to operate in the state and the continuation of the State Lottery highlights the fact that the state has a compatibility with the betting practices. However, the sports betting scene has just taken to the horizon in the US and the Badger state would require some time and persistence to remove the clogs introduced in the state policy by the anti-gambling Federal laws that have existed for decades.


What is the minimum gambling age in Wisconsin?

The minimum gambling age in Wisconsin is 18 years. However, the age limit practiced by tribal casinos established in the state is 21 years.

Are there any physical places for sports betting in Wisconsin?

Unfortunately, the state does not allow sports betting of any kind, the only exception being the horse race betting. The offshore platforms are your best bet for sports gambling.

Is online gambling legal in Wisconsin?

The states’ gambling law does not prohibit the aspect of online gambling but also does not provide regulations for it. The federal law practiced is also silent in this regard as it does not offer a restrictive comment on it. Hence, it is considered as a genuine option for sports betting.