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).
- 2016 and 2017 – Wisconsin State Assembly introduced bills to legalize Daily Fantasy Sports.
- 2020 -First ever off-reservation casino approved for Beloit, WI.
- 2021 – Tribal Compacts renegotiated to include on-premise sports betting at the casinos.
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 CASINO EXPANSION EFFORTS
- Two casino proposals are currently in the works, with more to likely follow. We can also expect proposals for casinos in Kenosha and Sheboygan to gain new life in the future. The Ho-Chunk is proposing to build an off-reservation casino in Beloit, and the Lac du Flambeau are seeking to build a casino in Shullsburg.
- The Ho-Chunk submitted its application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ regional office in Minnesota this spring after the Beloit City Council, Rock County Board and Ho-Chunk legislators approved an intergovernmental agreement. If Bureau of Indian Affairs’ approves the application, the final decision will be made by the Governor.
- The Lac Du Flambeau submitted their application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the spring of 2013. If approved, the final decision will also be made by the Governor.