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Wisconsin Online Poker & Gambling Laws

Online Poker WisconsinWisconsin has many opportunities for residents to play poker legally. Residents of Wisconsin have enjoyed playing poker for many years, and the online poker boom was definitely present within this state. Land based poker also has a huge presence in the state of Wisconsin at tribal casinos throughout the state.

Can Players From Wisconsin Play Poker Online?

Yes! Players from Wisconsin log into real money online poker sites every day and play poker for real money. If you are interested in playing poker online in Wisconsin then you just need to know what sites are accepting players from the United States.

Many online poker sites pulled out of the US market due to the UIGEA legislation, but most US poker sites are still accepting players from Wisconsin. You simply need to sign up, make a deposit, and begin playing. It’s that simple.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Wisconsin?

The legality of playing poker online is a complicated matter in almost every state. Wisconsin does not have laws in place that specifically mention online poker or online gambling so one must interpret the current laws that the state has in place. The legality of playing online poker according to the laws in place in Wisconsin is a matter that is debated often. Many people think that the laws do not pertain to online poker therefore make it legal, and then there are many that think that the laws do pertain to online poker and it is illegal. So, the legality of online poker falls into a gray area.

We cannot tell you if it is legal or illegal to play poker online in the state of Wisconsin. What we can do is provide you with some of the laws that Wisconsin has in place pertaining to gambling in general. You can see these below:

Wisconsin provides a section on gambling that states Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor (1) Makes a bet; or (2) Enters or remains in a gambling place with intent to make a bet, to participate in a lottery, or to play a gambling machine; or (3) Conducts a lottery, or with intent to conduct a lottery, possesses a facility to do so. (Section 945.02)

This is a very broad definition considering that there are legal places to gamble within the state of Wisconsin, and this law makes no exception for these.

Wisconsin provides a definition of a gambling device as Any device which he or she knows is designed exclusively for gambling purposes or anything which he or she knows is designed exclusively as a subassembly or essential part of such device. This includes without limitation gambling machines, numbers jars, punch boards and roulette wheels. Playing cards, dice, permanently disabled gambling machines and slot machines manufactured before December 31, 1974, that are intended to be used solely for display, restoration and preservation purposes shall not be considered devices exclusively for gambling purposes. (Section 945.05)

Our interpretation of a gambling device would not include computers, tablets, or cell phones since they were not produced solely for the purpose of gambling.

There are harsh punishments for operators of illegal gambling establishments in the Wisconsin laws.

We have found no instance where an individual has been charged with gambling online in the state of Wisconsin.

Social gambling is not legal within the state of Wisconsin. [1]

The laws that Wisconsin has in place pertaining to gambling seem to read that all gambling is illegal within the state, but we know that this is not the case because they have legal gambling within the state. This leaves it almost impossible to determine if online gambling would be considered legal or illegal. We are not professionals on the matters of the laws in Wisconsin. We encourage you to contact a law professional if you are concerned about the legality of playing poker online in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Gambling History

When the Wisconsin constitution was developed back in 1848, a provision stated that the state would never authorize any lottery. The state interpreted this law as meaning that all forms of gambling were illegal within the state. This included public games, private games, and charitable games.

Nevertheless, gambling was prevalent within the state. Charitable bingo halls were found throughout the state. Many saloons were like mini-casinos with all kinds of gambling going on from playing poker to slot machines. Law officials did little to try to enforce the strict no gambling laws, and it continued for many years with little to no intervention.

The first legalized gambling in the state of Wisconsin began with the legalization of promotional contests in 1965. The rules for promotional contests were very strict and stated that the contests could not force someone to purchase anything in order to be eligible for a prize. You would think that this was a small concession and it would not affect gambling at all, but it actually led the way for other forms of legalized gambling within the state.

The state approved charitable bingo games in 1973. They have strict laws in place pertaining to playing bingo, though. A person cannot win more than $1,000 in a single bingo session. The law also states that a single prize for a game cannot exceed $250. This was a small concession, but it was a major concession in the whole scheme of things.

In 1987, the voters of the state of Wisconsin won a vote to legalize pari-mutuel betting at the race tracks by a small margin. Betting had been going on for years at the race tracks, but it was being done illegally. Voters also approved a state lottery in 1987.

In 1992, compacts were formed with the 11 Indian tribes within the state of Wisconsin. The compacts allowed the tribes to open casinos within the state. These tribes were operating a total of 17 casinos within the state by 1997. [2]

Legalized Gambling Options in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a wide array of legal gambling available for residents. The state lottery is sold in stores throughout the states. There are several tribal casinos that offer Vegas style gaming. Charitable gambling halls are also available with plenty of bingo halls. Unfortunately, home poker games are not legal under the laws of Wisconsin.

Will Wisconsin Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

We think that the legalization of online poker in Wisconsin depends a lot on what the tribes in the state want to do. If they see the potential in making a lot of money then we think it is a possibility that we will see online poker legalized and regulated soon. This is one of the states that is probably keeping their eyes on New Jersey to see how the legalization of online gambling is going in that state. If New Jersey fairs well then we expect a lot of states to follow suit.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Wisconsin Gambling Laws
  2. Jump up ^ History of Gambling in Wisconsin
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