2021 Wisconsin Statutes
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Gambling Clause of the Constitution, there’s been a push in many states for sports betting. While most people would still say it’s illegal to wager on sports without a license, that isn’t entirely true. State-regulated sports betting isn’t illegal in Wisconsin and theoretically, isn’t even on their radar’s at this point either. However, until the political will to legalize sports betting in Wisconsin is developed by the residents, online sports betting remain a legal option which doesn’t violate any of the current laws.
Two representatives from Wisconsin are already pushing for a resolution in the upcoming legislative session that would legalize sports betting throughout the state. One of those representatives, Assemblyman David Obey (R) believes that the Gambling Clause should be overturned altogether. He stated, “The whole idea behind the Gambling Clause was to prevent individuals from placing their bets on sports betting events that were not regulated by a government agency or those that were not operated by the states.” However, if the Gambling Clause was overturned, how would that solve the issue? Wouldn’t the legislature have to figure out how to change the constitution again to protect the rights of citizens?
Others in the Wisconsin State Legislature agree with Assemblyman Obey. He argues, “the people have the right to gamble responsibly, if they so choose, but I think the government should stop interfering with that right… ultimately we’re going to need an independent oversight agency that keeps an eye on sports betting in Wisconsin because I don’t think it is something that we can rely on the first time around.” Wisconsin is one of fourteen states that have placed a constitutional amendment on the books that prevents the state or its residents from banishing or restricting gambling. According to the amendment, the legislature can only ban a law which “subverts the purposes of the right.” In other words, the law cannot restrict your right to wager on sports.
There are many issues and concerns about the 2021 NFL Betting Champ Selection, including a possible conflict between the state and the NCAA. Wisconsin is one of fourteen states that have placed a constitutional amendment on the books that prevents the state or its residents from banishing or restricting gambling. Therefore, in the upcoming semester you might want to consider looking into the possibility of placing your bets on Wisconsin football games.
What’s more, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) also feels that the Gambling Clause should be overturned. While speaking at the National Association for Sport and Professional Integrity conference in January, Walker said, “I believe we’ve got too much on the line in our state to give up sports betting.” Walker did not specify what he meant by that, but according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he was speaking about the power of sports betting. He also indicated that he believes the gaming and lottery commissions should have more control over college athletic programs.
Two Wisconsin representatives, both Republicans, have introduced bills that would amend the state’s existing laws on gambling, sports betting and lottery sales. One of those introduced, Representative Dean Frenkel, has included a provision in his version of the bill that would allow Wisconsinites to bet on a professional sports game even if they live out of state. According to the Journal Sentinel, Frenkel also plans on introducing another bill that would allow Wisconsinites to bet on college basketball and football games. However, no recent Wisconsin legislation regarding college sports betting has passed. As a result, the upcoming Wisconsin State Fair may include a lottery for the top Wisconsin athlete.
The move came less than a year after the NBA moved their All-Star Game from Las Vegas, Nevada to New Orleans. At the time, the move sparked controversy, as some state legislators accused the NBA of taking advantage of a legitimate gambling law. However, the governor defended the move, saying that Las Vegas was simply offering an extra incentive to bring the All-Star Game to their state. Wisconsin is one of only two states currently allowing gambling in sports. The other state, Louisiana, has had legislation on the books since 2021, but it has not been passed.
The new law in Wisconsin would mark a bold move for the Badger State. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsinites will now be able to place sports bets at casinos owned by the state or by counties and municipalities. However, it remains to be seen whether the new law would apply to Wisconsin casinos, racetrack facilities and Wisconsin’s College Sports Betting House. If it does, the expansion could bring an unprecedented influx of revenue to the financially strapped Wisconsin economy.