It is a touch surprising that Wisconsin is so far behind so many other states when it comes to sports betting, but it remains the case well into 2020. Wisconsin has casinos, but all of them are Native American-owned. Tribal gaming compacts are a tricky business in a lot of states and Wisconsin has not attempted to cross that bridge yet.
It also has to be a two-way street. The tribes have to want to expand gaming as well. Because there has not been a big push from the tribes, state lawmakers haven’t really pursued the issue either. As a result, Wisconsin is lagging behind a lot of states when it comes to legalized sports betting.
There are a lot of hurdles in a state like Wisconsin. The tribes are likely the biggest one, but sports betting would also require an amendment to the state constitution, which is something that elected officials take very seriously. It would stand to reason that a state so in love with its Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers and Milwaukee Brewers would approve a measure if brought to a vote in the general election, but lawmakers haven’t even really gotten that far yet.
Several states have gotten over similar hurdles and have also come to agreements with the tribes that run gaming, so it isn’t an impossible task by any means. It just isn’t one that has gotten a whole lot of attention. If and when it does, Wisconsin will be a very interesting state to watch. Unlike Michigan, which started operating legal sportsbooks in early 2020, there are no corporate casinos in the state. There are blueprints for states that only include tribal casinos, like Washington, which just approved betting on a retail basis only, so there are a lot of reasons to believe that Wisconsin could get started.
It just won’t be anytime soon. There doesn’t seem to be a big push and it hasn’t even been a big topic of conversation in terms of the constituents, so it just sits dormant on the backburner. If anything starts to move in Wisconsin, we’ll let you know about it. For now, all is quiet.
How Do I Bet on Sports in Wisconsin?
Betting on sports in Wisconsin will not be legal for a long period of time with the way things are currently going. At present, however, there are a lot of different options for those that want to get their bets in.
Wisconsin shares borders with three states that take legal wagers and a fourth is not that far away. Wisconsin natives can bet in Iowa or Illinois, which both offer retail and online and mobile wagering. You have to complete in-person registration to gain access to the mobile and online capabilities and you have to be physically located within the state to use the sportsbooks, but there are a ton of options including BetRivers, PointsBet, DraftKings, FanDuel, and William Hill.
Michigan is also up and running with sports betting. Unfortunately, that is limited to retail betting for now, as the state expects to be up and running with its online and mobile capabilities in 2021.
Indiana is also a modest drive and offers both retail and online/mobile wagering with several of the same operators from Illinois and Iowa like BetRivers, FanDuel, and DraftKings.
What is most surprising about Wisconsin’s apparent apathy towards sports betting is that so many border states are up and running and the two closest have the online and mobile betting options that make it extremely convenient to bet on sports. The loss of money and tax revenue to other states hasn’t seemed to faze Wisconsin lawmakers or the tribes to this point. Who knows how long that will take.