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Sports betting simplified
Sports betting in Wisconsin is legal but in an unusual way. Most states allow sports betting through legislative actions, such as bills, proposals, or constitutional amendments. They are designed to change the fundamental statutes pertaining to gambling inside their state lines to allow for the introduction of betting on sports.
In Wisconsin, federally recognized tribes can negotiate with the state to change existing state compacts. These amendments allow for sports betting, thus making sports betting legal under the jurisdiction of the individual tribe. So far, two such amendments have become active in the state: a 2021 agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation and a 2022 agreement with the Forest County Potawatomi.
State of Wisconsin Sports Betting Overview
Wisconsin sports betting is legal in-person at four different tribal casinos. The first place to offer sports betting in the state was the Oneida Casino complex, north of Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay. The Oneida Tribe also owns the Oneida Casino West Mason in Green Bay. Both casinos have retail sportsbooks open for business.
In 2023, the Forest County Potawatomi joined the fold. It opened self-serve sports betting kiosks at two casinos: The Potawatomi Casino in downtown Milwaukee and the Potawatomi Casino in Carter, Wisconsin.
The Potawatomi’s Milwaukee location is a temporary setup with 17 kiosks. Still, the tribe has reached a multi-channel partnership with the Kambi Group to provide a full suite of sports betting services to the sportsbook. An on-premises mobile launch is also in the works for this location.
In addition to these three in-person sportsbooks, online sports betting is available in Wisconsin, albeit in a peculiar fashion. And in a heavily restricted manner. Any online sports betting must occur on the reservation lands or other properties associated with the tribes offering an app. There are currently no apps offering online sports betting promos statewide.
Because the Oneida tribe owns an additional casino property and more than a half-dozen truck stops around the Green Bay area, the tribe offered a sports betting app. Based on the compact's language, those stores' lands qualify as valid areas for online sports betting. Thus, besides the main casino area, you may place online sports bets at any Oneida One-Stops nearby.
As we mentioned, Wisconsin’s status concerning legal sports betting is unusual. There is no law in the Wisconsin Statutes allowing sports betting. Yet, sports betting is legal and active.
New Mexico is the only other state not to pass a sports betting law and still host sportsbooks. Still, unlike that state, Wisconsin sports betting exists by an amendment to the state’s compact with the Oneida Indian Nation.
The amendment that paved the way for Oneidas to open its sports betting operations is the third amendment to the tribe’s 1991 compact. Although most tribal amendments tend to be short on detail, this one serves as a reasonable analog for the sports betting laws in other states.
Under the amendment's language, the Oneida Indian Nation can offer wagering on “events.”
In other words, betting on sporting events and other contests is legal. Unlike in some states, it is possible to wager on the Oscars and esports in Wisconsin. Based upon the language about outcomes and occurrences, it is also clear that the agreement permits live wagering alongside the standard pregame betting.
Online sports betting is legal under the agreement, but only at the tribe’s properties. That means Oneidas must ensure their app is only available within the tight perimeters of their nine properties in the Green Bay area through geolocation verification software.
Finally, the amendment includes language to allow the tribe to benefit from authorizations that other tribes might receive. If one of the ten other federally recognized tribes in the state launches sports betting, the terms of the new permit transfer onto the Oneidas.
State of Wisconsin Sports Betting Timeline
Nov. 17, 2022 – The state of Wisconsin and the Sokaogon Chippewa Community’s compact agreement was approved. With this news, the fifth sportsbook in Wisconsin was given the green light to open up at the tribe’s Mole Lake Casino before Super Bowl 57.
Apr. 18, 2022 – The St. Croix Casino in Turtle Lake opens a sportsbook.
Feb. 21, 2022 – Oneida Nation launches sports betting app, only usable from Oneida land.