A Brief History of Gambling in Wisconsin

A Brief History of Gambling in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s legalized gambling began with the State sponsored lottery and the Legislature’s approval of dog racing. Soon afterward, the state’s Native American Tribes, which had been operating high stakes bingo parlors, entered casino gaming, having won federal government approval in the courts after Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Gambling flourished, growing exponentially through the 1990s.  No one has more than a two hour drive to get to one of Wisconsin’s 22 casinos.

Some Wisconsin Highlights

  • 1965 – Sweepstakes legalized.
  • 1973 – Charitable bingo legalized.
  • 1977 – Raffles legalized.
  • 1987 –Lottery and pari-mutuel legalized by .
  • 1991 – Class III gaming compacts negotiated with 11 Indian Tribes
  • 1998 – Gaming compacts re-negotiated.

Gambling expansion in Wisconsin is currently occurring in multiple ways: 

  1. The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature approved $143 million in expansion for four of the tribe’s six gaming facilities.
  2. The proposed 2017-2018 Wisconsin State Budget calls for a $1 million increase in lottery advertising to increase the number of tickets sold annually.
  3. Proposed off-reservation casinos in Beloit and Shullsburg are pending approval from the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  4. A bill to legalize Daily Fantasy Sports is currently pending in the Wisconsin State Legislature.