Wisconsin Sports Betting On Pace for Potential Early Fall Launch

Wisconsin Sports Betting On Pace for Potential Early Fall Launch article feature image

Quinn Harris / Getty Images. Pitctured: Packers fans

Wisconsin sports bettors may have at least one legal betting option for the Green Bay Packers' season opener.

The federal Department of the Interior is expected to rule on the state’s newest gaming compact by August 16. Though that doesn’t guarantee legal sports betting begins in early September, it would clear the single major regulatory hurdle preventing the state’s first sportsbook opening.

On July 1, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and Gov. Tony Evers announced the gaming compact, which regulates tribal gaming offerings. The deal, which will allow the tribe to open sportsbooks at its properties including its primary casino near Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, was officially received by the Interior Department the next day.

The Oneida Nation has already begun work on a temporary sportsbook near the sports bar at its main Green Bay casino. The casino will feature betting windows and kiosks, officials said following the compact signing ceremony last month.

By law, the DOI has 45 calendar days to make a decision. If approved, the Oneida casino could potentially accept its first bet before the Packers take on the New Orleans Saints Sept. 12.

Wisconsin Sports Betting Details

Wisconsin’s potentially solitary sportsbook is still more than most industry observers expected heading into the year.

There was little public indication before July that Evers and any of the state’s gaming tribes were close to a new compact deal. The surprise announcement was only topped by the quick turnaround for federal submission; other states including Florida and Connecticut took weeks before formally submitting their compacts.

Along with the NFL, the new Oneida casino sportsbook will permit wagering on the NBA, NHL, MLB and many other professional sports. It is not clear if the tribe will partner with a third-party sportsbook operator.

The compact does not allow statewide mobile betting. Wagering on college basketball, football and other sports is permitted, but lines for in-state programs such as Marquette University or the University of Wisconsin will not be offered.

Wisconsin will be one of the first states to explicitly permit betting on awards shows such as the Oscars.

Possible Future Growth

No other Wisconsin tribe has announced a similar deal, but bettors shouldn’t be surprised if more of the state’s nearly two-dozen tribal casinos pursue sportsbooks of their own.

Under current federal law, gaming tribes are not permitted to accept online bets outside tribal lands. The Seminole Tribe of Florida has challenged this law and has submitted a compact that would permit statewide mobile wagering. A DOI ruling is expected early next month.

If the Seminole’s online sports betting components are approved, several hundred federally recognized gaming tribes could presumably pursue online sportsbooks of their own within their respective states. In that scenario, it remains to be seen how many would do so; many tribes use retail sportsbooks to attract in-person visits for more lucrative games or other casino amenities.

With the industry awaiting the Seminole compact ruling, Wisconsin’s first tribal sportsbook is steadily advancing. Work remains before the Oneida Casino can take a bet, but there is a clear path for Green Bay residents to place legal bets on every game of the Packers' 2021 regular season.

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