Sports Betting Comes to Wisconsin

Sports Betting Comes to Wisconsin

2021 | Week of December 6 | Radio Transcript #1441

Last week Wisconsin made history—and it wasn’t good history. Thanks to Governor Evers, sports betting is now legal in The Badger State.

On Tuesday, November 30, the Oneida Casino in Green Bay began offering sports betting. Here’s how the tribe talks about this latest way for people to lose their money: “Bet on your favorite sports at the Oneida Casino Sportsbook. We are the first and only casino in Wisconsin authorized to offer sports betting. Bet on teams and players in virtually every sport—from hardball to pigskin, from hockey to hoops, and on guys who drive it 400 yards or 500 miles.”

Essentially, sports betting is available more than twelve hours a day, seven days a week at this casino with longer hours on days the Packers have a home game. This is also available online. Apparently, the only stipulation is that someone has to be on the casino premises, but that doesn’t mean in the casino, just on the property.

What happened last week now represents the largest expansion of gambling in Wisconsin’s history—and that’s because up to this point, online gambling of any sort hasn’t been available in our state. And it’s happened because the governor acted unilaterally and amended the gaming compact with the Oneida tribe.

Technically, the governor didn’t do anything illegal. Wisconsin law allows the governor to negotiate and sign gaming compacts that govern how the tribes and the state handle the casinos without any legislative input or oversight. That’s been challenged in court, but the legislature has never prevailed.

In Wisconsin, only the Native American tribes can have casinos—and until just a couple of months ago, the tribes could build casinos only on tribal lands. When the governor approved a new Ho-Chunk casino in Beloit, he approved the first off-reservation casino in the state. Right now, we have over 20 casinos, but that will likely significantly increase over the next decade.

Here’s why this will probably happen. In Wisconsin the unwritten but generally acknowledged agreement is that what one tribe gets, the other ten tribes eventually get. That means that probably sooner rather than later, more tribes will ask the governor to amend their compacts to allow for sports betting, and several other tribes will likely begin the process of applying for off-reservation casinos.

The legalization of sports betting is particularly onerous. Up until a couple of years ago, we had a federal law prohibiting sports betting—for all the reasons you can imagine. However, the US Supreme Court determined that it was putting the issue back to the states. In Wisconsin, instead of letting the lawmaking branch, the state legislature, consider the issue, the governor stepped up and made the decision for all of us with his unilateral decision.

Wisconsin’s gambling history is one of going from none to almost unlimited gambling opportunities, especially with the addition of sports betting, which is primarily online and therefore targets young people. In particular the target is college-aged males, a group that is unusually vulnerable to the siren song of lady luck. Studies show college and university students tend to have higher rates of problem gambling, as compared to the general population. This bodes very badly for the next generation.

Of course, any expansion of gambling comes with increased at-risk, problem, and pathological gamblers. It’s just inevitable.

Because so much gambling today is online, especially this new sports betting, parents need to take every precaution they can to protect their children—who are not immune to the lure of gambling as they surf the internet. In age-appropriate ways, talking with kids about God’s view of money and financial stewardship and why gambling doesn’t fit with a biblical worldview is a good place to start. Additionally, establishing family rules for devices and the Internet, setting up strict parental controls on all devices, and installing the very best filters you can, will help young people avoid the trap of gambling that can lead to a serious addiction.

Wisconsin Family Council opposes the expansion of gambling because it harms Wisconsin’s best natural resource—her families. Problem gambling much too often leads to other addictions, broken marriages and destroyed families from the lying, the financial stress, criminal activity and more that so often comes with this addiction. Wisconsin is not well served by this latest gambling expansion. As with all gambling, it’s a very bad bet.

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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