At the moment, if you’re living in Wisconsin and want to place a bet on the Green Bay Packers, your best option is to drive to Iowa, where sports betting is legal. Illinois will likely offer the activity soon, and Michigan and Minnesota options may not be too far off. But one state representative thinks its high time Wisconsin had its own sports betting industry.
Rep. Tyler Vorpagel is a little tired of seeing sports betting revenue trickle out to other states, and wants it to come to Wisconsin. “I’m all for it. I don’t see a problem with it,” Vorpagel is quoted as saying by Wisconsin’s State Journal. “I would much rather keep that revenue in the state.”
Vorpagel is currently researching the possibility of bringing sports gambling to the state, but doesn’t have a real plan to introduce it any time soon. Doing so won’t be easy, as the state constitution would need to be amended, requiring the Assembly, the Senate and a referendum to all vote in favor of it. That’s really the only way the state could start collecting direct revenue from sports betting activity.
The alternative is to let the tribes have sports betting. There are currently 26 tribal casinos in Wisconsin, but sports betting is prohibited unless the tribes renegotiate their deals with the state to expand their operations.
If Vorpagel decided to go the amendment route, he has support from his colleagues. Rep. Petre Barca has also signaled he believes it’s a good idea, noting “it may be an appropriate time for the state to comprehensively evaluate our laws and weigh if further modification is necessary.”
Not everyone is for it though, indicating a referendum might be a problem. Rose Blozinski, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling, has noted that in the last 25 years, problem gambling calls to her hotline have gone from 3,500 per year to 14,000 per year. “There are more people gambling. It’s become more accessible and people are going to try it,” Blozinski said. “People are certainly reaching out for help.”
Regardless of what Blozinski says, sports betting is going to be offered in neighboring states, and gambling is already in tribal casinos, so it may just be time for Wisconsin to get on the sports betting bandwagon.