Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Wisconsin
2021 Update: Is Online Poker Legal in Wisconsin?
There’s a whole lot of cheese in Wisconsin, but you can’t find any of it at online poker tables just yet. While there are a ton of casinos in the state, there hasn’t been a lot of support to expand and legislate online poker yet. There are several tribal casinos in the state and they’ve opposed expanding gaming, especially online gaming.
The state is also fairly conservative when it comes to legislation and there hasn’t been any moves in the last years when it comes to online poker or sports betting. Sports betting started passing after a 2018 Supreme Court ruling paved the way for states to start legalizing it, and it’s been a pretty good barometer for online poker. But Wisconsin hasn’t made any big moves on this front either. It’ll probably be some time before Wisconsin does anything to legislate online poker.
The Law, Gambling and Poker in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a fairly conservative state when it comes to gambling and a few other things. It has several laws concerning gambling that are covered in the Wisconsin State Statutes. The state covers gambling in Chapter 945 of its statutes. One of the most essential parts of any gambling law is defining what gambling actually is. The most granular element of this is a bet. Wisconsin defines a bet in 945.01 section (1) of its state statutes. It reads:
“A bet is a bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose something of value specified in the agreement.”
This is similar to how several states define gambling or a bet. The key words here are “chance” and “skill”. Most states only include the word “chance” when it comes to defining gambling. This makes it easier for states to legalize online poker because a federal judge ruled poker to be a game of skill in 2012.
But here we see that Wisconsin adds “even though accompanied by some skill.” Phrases like this are intentionally ambiguous and could easily include poker since there is definitely chance involved. The exact breakdown of skill and chance in the game is always up for debate, but you can’t argue that both elements aren’t key in the game. This means that poker is definitely covered by Wisconsin’s state statutes.
Can I Play Poker on PokerStars in Wisconsin?
You can buy a whole lot of cheese but you can’t make any on PokerStars in Wisconsin. There are a few states in the United States where you can play on PokerStars, but Wisconsin isn’t one of them. So far, the only two to allow it are Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For there to be PokerStars in Wisconsin, the state would have to legalize online poker first and then grant PokerStars a license. Neither of these seems likely to happen anytime soon. Luckily, there are a few PokerStars alternatives for poker players in Wisconsin. These sites have great poker tournaments, quality cash games and solid sign-up bonuses. Sites like Ignition Poker, Bovada and BetOnline all have qualities that made PokerStars great and accept players from all 50 states, including Wisconsin. For a more detailed breakdown of the sites, check out our full reviews below:
What Legal Forms of Gambling are Available in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin doesn’t offer as many gambling options as some other states, but it does offer its residents a few options. The first thing that passed in Wisconsin were sweepstakes and charitable gaming. These passed in the 60s and 70s and then the Wisconsin lottery came along in the 80s.
The lottery has been popular with Wisconsinites and it has generated more than $15.3 billion in revenue since it first started going on sale in 1988. In that time, the state has paid $8.7 billion in prizes and $4.6 billion has gone to fund property tax credits. The lottery has been a pretty big source of money for the state.
Wisconsin also has a number of tribal casinos across the state. There are 11 recognized tribes in the states that have casinos in Wisconsin. Among them, they have 26 casinos scattered throughout the state. You’ll find all kinds of table games and slot machines at these casinos as well as resorts, shows and restaurants. Yes, you can find some pretty good poker games there too.
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