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Wisconsin Gambling Laws

Maybe you’re hosting the weekly buddies poker game or even thinking of heading over to the Potawatomi Casino to try your luck at some Texas Hold ’em. Or maybe you’re throwing $20 into your office March Madness pool, hoping the Badgers make the Final Four. Whether in your kitchen or at a casino, Wisconsin’s gaming and gambling laws cover all of these activities. So here is a brief overview of gambling laws in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Gambling Laws at Glance

While certain types of gambling are illegal and prosecuted under each state's gaming statutes, many states have relaxed some of their gambling statutes and permitted limited casinos and other gaming venues like card rooms. While Wisconsin gambling laws allow betting on dog racing and a few riverboat casinos, most other types of gambling are prohibited in the state. Bona fide contests of skill like snowmobile racing are legal, as are bingo, raffles, and other charitable games.

The specifics of Wisconsin gambling laws are listed in the table below.

Code Section

945.01 et seq.; 562.001 et seq.

Gambling

Bargain in which parties agree, dependent upon chance even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose something of value specified in the agreement.

Horse Racing/Off-Track Betting

Licensed horse racing and on-track pari-mutuel wagering legal. Off-track betting prohibited. Simulcast wagering allowed.

Dog Racing/Off-Track Betting

Licensed dog racing and on-track parimutuel wagering legal. Off-track betting prohibited. Simulcast wagering allowed.

Casinos Allowed?

Indian gaming legal. Commercial, i.e., casino gambling illegal.

Other Kinds of Gambling-Related Activities Allowed or Banned

Licensed bingo and raffles allowed. Crane games; snowmobile racing; bona fide business contracts; contests of skill, speed, strength and endurance legal. Bookmaking; dealing in gambling devices illegal.

Gambling/gaming generally includes everything from casinos to racetracks to state lotteries and is regulated by a combination of state and federal laws. States like Wisconsin that permit gambling generally have government divisions or gaming commissions that control industry practices, such as licensing employees and regulating the games and finances. Most states will provide strict zoning regulations to separate racetracks and casinos from schools and residential areas. At the federal level, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act regulates all gambling establishments on Indian reservations.

Wisconsin Gambling Laws: Related Resources

State gaming regulations can be different from state to state and can change over time. If you would like legal advice regarding a gaming matter, you can contact a Wisconsin gaming law attorney in your area. You can also visit FindLaw’s Gaming Law section for more articles and resources on this topic.

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