Selling Out WI Citizens on a Bad Bet

Selling Out WI Citizens on a Bad Bet

2021 | Week of July 12 | Radio Transcript #1420

Earlier this month Governor Tony Evers and the Oneida tribal officials signed an agreement authorizing for the first time in our state, betting on professional sporting events. The sports gambling would be available at the tribe’s casino in Green Bay, but the agreement also allows for digital, meaning online, sports bets to be placed if the person is physically present on tribal land when making the transaction, using for instance, a cell phone.

The agreement includes legalizing gambling on NFL, NBA and MLB games, professional sports drafts and national televised award shows. It does not permit betting on collegiate sports, elections or events with participants under the age of 19. The US Bureau of Indian Affairs has a 45-day window to approve or reject the deal.

Evers and the tribal officials claim this significant expansion of gambling will create additional employment opportunities for the tribe and would boost state tourism. Of course, the state also gets a percentage of the tribe’s winnings in exchange for this exclusive right to offer gambling.

Evers was able to make this deal with the tribe, in part, because of a US Supreme Court decision in 2018 that said the states can decide for themselves whether they want sports betting. Our state legislature has not dealt with any bill regarding that issue, but our law allows the governor to enter into casino gambling compacts with the tribes without any legislative oversight whatsoever.

Evers is very quick to use any and all means available to him to accomplish what he wants without dealing with the Assembly and Senate. He issues Executive Orders freely, and now is using his authority to significantly expand gambling in our state.

Even if the Oneida tribe ends up being the only tribe with sports betting, it’s still a significant expansion of gambling, since sports betting, according to some experts, is one of the most popular forms of gambling. But here’s how this expansion will actually result in an explosion of gambling. In general, the agreement between the state and the eleven tribes with casinos in Wisconsin is that what one tribe gets, they all get. That means that very likely, eventually the other ten tribes will also sign compact agreements with the governor to allow sports betting in their casinos and also online under the same terms as the Oneida compact. Bam! The gambling explosion bomb just went off.

We already have a gambling problem in Wisconsin with over 20 casinos and no one living more than a two-hour drive from one of those establishments. And this statistic recently got worse when Governor Evers approved a new casino in Beloit.

Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling estimates that in 2020, approximately 333,000 Wisconsin residents had a gambling problem. The average debt of the nearly 17,000 people who called the Council’s 24-hour helpline last year is $30,377. We know the closer a person lives to a casino, the more likely he or she is to develop a gambling problem.

One group that will be especially vulnerable to this current expansion of gambling is college students who are 21 or older. Research shows that this group tends to have higher rates of problem gambling than the general population. Imagine the sports betting advertising that will be directed to college students!

Much too often gambling is not a victimless, harmless form of entertainment. For too many people, gambling is a zero-sum game, as they are sucked into financial ruin and more by the siren song of lady luck. Financial ruin and the addiction lead to the destruction of marriages and families, crimes to feed the gambling habit, additional addictions, and too often suicide.

So what Evers has really done is to make it even more enticing for Wisconsin citizens to gamble, thereby ensuring more people will become problem or even pathological gamblers. He has once again put the state in the terrible position of needing its citizens to lose in order for the state to win. That’s a despicable way to govern.

My list of grievances against this governor grows nearly every day. Cavalierly using his position to endanger Wisconsin’s best natural resource—her families—by this wanton expansion of gambling is pretty high up on my list. November 2022 can’t come fast enough.

This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”


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