After an initially limited release of sports betting in Wisconsin, yet another Wisconsin tribe has been cleared for a casino license.
This move comes as a huge win for residents of America's Dairyland. Originally, there was only one Wisconsin tribe that was approved to offer on-site sports betting. That ended up restricting Wisconsinites to just a couple of locations throughout the entire state. If you weren't near city hubs like Green Bay or Wisconsin, you were plum out of luck.
Handing out another casino sports betting license will significantly help open up the field of possibilities for anyone in the state looking to gamble on sports. And yet, through it all, the majority of sports betting enthusiasts Wisconsin are still waiting on another major form of legal gambling progress.
Wisconsin Tribe Can Officially Expand State's Sports Betting Options
This deal between the governor's office and the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians is the latest attempt by Wisconsin to allow more mainstream access to legal sports betting. That's something the state has been working on for some time—since before they even officially rolled out legal sports betting. Even now, on the heels of this deal, Wisconsin is still looking to grow sportsbook options for prospective bettors.
Meanwhile, the latest agreement with yet another Wisconsin tribe was put into motion all the way back in February. It just took a while to hammer out the terms, and Wisconsin also wanted to make sure the sports betting infrastructure they set up for their initial opening didn't have any major hangups or flaws.
Though the exact parameters of this deal between Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and the state of Wisconsin haven't yet been made public, some details are already trickling out. Consider what Jim Tomlin wrote for Top U.S. Casinos:
"The latest deal, according to a news release from Evers’ office, allows wagering at the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians’ Sevenwinds Casino in Hayward, plus allows for 'mobile wagering on other land' on the reservation.
'I am grateful to Chairman Taylor and the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Council for their work to come to an agreement on this important compact amendment,' Evers, a Democrat elected in 2018, said in the release. 'Event wagering will generate additional revenue for the state and the Tribe, while giving a boost to tourism and employment in Northern Wisconsin.'"
Online Sports Betting Still Not Legal in Wisconsin
Looking at the press release announcing the decision to award another Wisconsin tribe a sports betting license, you'll notice that the state mentions the ability for residents to engage in "mobile wagering on other land." This language is cryptic, but it actually carries a whole lot of meaning.
Select people will interpret this as online sports betting. In fact, it's something else. "Mobile wagering" actually refers to betting on mobile apps. And not only that, but it refers exclusively to mobile app betting while on tribal properties. This will allow people to place bets outside the casinos so long they are located on other tribal properties, like certain reservations. It does not, however, allow people in Wisconsin to submit their sports wagers online.
On the contrary, online sports betting remains illegal inside The Badger State. Of course, there are still plenty of sites from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks that will allow Wisconsinites to register for accounts and place wagers. As of now, though, the state doesn't condone online sports betting and, by extension, has no way to track it or collect taxes on it.
Do Wisconsin Tribes Offer Enough Access to Sports Betting
Invariably, many will wonder why Wisconsin remains against the legalization of online sports betting. To date, their stance has been twofold.
First and foremost, Wisconsin is looking to maximize revenue within the state. Brick-and-mortar casinos not only pay licensing fees and taxes, but they create jobs. They also generate foot traffic that leads to more money being spent at places like hotels, restaurants and shops near or around the casinos. Secondly, the state has repeatedly expressed a concern for the lack of protocols for sports betting advertisements and the dearth of support in place for sports betting addictions. Government officials continue to argue that commercial online sportsbooks disproportionately target low-income demographics with their marketing tools, which has an adverse financial and psychological impact on those neighborhoods and the residents within them.
Supporters of online sports betting in Wisconsin have countered with their own argument. They argue that casinos do the same thing, such as those operated by Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, who now own a sports betting licensing. And if questionable market targeting is going to take place anyway, shouldn't Wisconsin at least be able to collect taxes on it?
This logic is morally ambiguous, at best, even if it does carry some weight. But if Wisconsin really is looking to limit the damage inflicted upon certain local economies by sports betting, they have chosen the correct route. Even as the state has expanded on-site offerings, access to remains restrictive. Right now, with the addition of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, only three Wisconsin tribes have a license to collect sports bets.
Whether this changes remains to be seen. Will Wisconsin license even more casinos? Will they eventually warm up to online sports betting? We probably won't have an answer on either until late 2023 or early 2024. For now, the state has decided it's a good thing to add another Wisconsin tribe to the list of sports betting operators, which implies a certain commitment to continued on-site wagering rather than online gambling.
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