Wisconsin’s legalized gambling began with a state sponsored lottery in 1987. Shortly thereafter, federal courts granted Native American Tribes the right to negotiate gaming compacts authorizing a variety of gambling activities on reservations and federal trust lands. Today, Wisconsin has 22 casinos – leaving no resident with more than a 2- hour drive to the nearest casino.
WISCONSIN GAMBLING EXPANSION TIMELINE
In recent years, Wisconsin Tribes have sought approval to build off-reservation casinos in Sheboygan, Kenosha, Beloit and Shullsburg and the state increased lottery advertising to $8.5 million annually. Efforts to legalize Daily Fantasy Sports (online gambling) continue in the legislature and would result in the largest expansion of gambling in state history.
- April 1965 – Sweepstakes legalized by Wisconsin voters with the passage of a constitutional amendment.
- April 1973 – Charitable bingo legalized by Wisconsin voters with the passage of a constitutional amendment.
- April 1977 – Raffles legalized by Wisconsin voters with the passage of a constitutional amendment.
- April 1987 –Lottery and pari-mutuel legalized by Wisconsin voters with the passage of a constitutional amendment.
- 1991 – Class III gaming compacts negotiated with 11 Indian Tribes resulting in 22 casinos across Wisconsin.
- April 1993 -Gambling expansion prohibited per article IV of the constitution clarifying that all forms of gambling are prohibited except bingo, raffles, pari-mutuel on-track betting and the current state-run lottery and to assure that the state will not conduct prohibited forms of gambling as part of the state-run lottery.
- 2003 – Renegotiated compacts with Tribes giving them perpetual rights to expand and grow, allowing the casinos to run 24-hours a day and expand their scope of games – in perpetuity (forever).
Wisconsin has 11 (eleven) tribes which feature 22 gaming facilities. Yet there are no shortage of tribes looking to locate even more off-reservation gaming facilities. Nor is there a shortage of access – no one in Wisconsin has more than a 2-hour drive to the nearest casino.
CURRENT STATE OF GAMBLING IN WISCONSIN
- The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature approved $143 million in expansion in 2017 for four of the tribe’s six gaming facilities.
- The 2017-2018 Wisconsin State Budget included a $1M increase in lottery advertising to increase the number of tickets sold annually with zero dollars allocated to gambling addiction treatment.
- Proposed off-reservation casinos in Beloit and Shullsburg are pending approval from the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs; and Sheboygan and Kenosha which linger around in hopes of a favorable political climate.
- CAEG has successfully opposed bills to legalize Daily Fantasy Sports (online gambling) that have been introduced in the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2016 and 2017, and we will likely see its return in future legislative sessions. If passed, this would represent the largest expansion of gambling in our state’s history. Learn more here. (link DFS Fact Sheet)