Wisconsin Legal Poker Sites

Wisconsin StateWisconsin is the home State of World Series of Poker legend Phil Helmuth, who still appears in poker tournaments here. There are 10 poker rooms, mostly on the small side, who offer a range of tournament and cash game action from tribal lands in this State. Online poker is not considered legal under the existing legal codes. Home games are also not exempted from anti-gambling laws – making them technically illegal (though widely tolerated). Free to enter bar poker leagues are popular here.

Recommended Wisconsin Poker Site

RankPoker SiteUSABonusBonus CodePlay Now
#1Ignition Poker Review$1100N/AVisit Ignition Poker

This page covers poker games in the State of Wisconsin in detail. First of all you can find out more on the live poker rooms in this State. After that social poker is covered, this includes home-games, charity games and free bar poker leagues. Next online poker is discussed, including speculation on whether WI will regulate these games and when. After that you can find excerpts from the Wisconsin Statutes which relate to poker games – followed by a summary of the big picture here.

Wisconsin Live Poker Games

There are many tribes whose nations are located within the WI State borders. Agreements (or compacts) with the State allow them to run casinos on their land, and many of these include poker rooms. These range from just a couple of tables (for example the Bad River Lodge Casino) though to a big 20 table room at the Potawatomi Casino.

There are some tournament tours which stop by Wisconsin, including the televised Heartland Poker Tour. Plenty of regular tournaments and special events run alongside the round-the-clock cash game action in this State. For players willing to travel, there is even more poker action to be found to the south in Illinois.

Are Home Games Legal In Wisconsin?

There is no carve out for social home games in Wisconsin, which means that playing these for real money is breaking the law. There is very little in the press concerning poker busts of small stakes home games, which leads to the conclusion that these are tolerated by the law enforcement agencies here. Charity games can only involve bingo and raffles here, with no allowance for poker tournaments. The other social games are bar freeroll events, where small prizes are usually provided by the venues themselves in return for the extra trade they receive from players. Since these games have no buy-ins, they are not counted as gambling.

Wisconsin Online Poker Games

As in most States, the Statutes which relate to gambling were put together before the internet was around. Never the less, the authorities in Wisconsin believe that the existing laws cover online poker and make this activity illegal. There has never been a court case concerning this, so no legal precedents exist one way or the other.

There is no reason why WI should not regulate online poker games at some point down the line. At the same time this State has not been keen to expand gambling outside of the tribal lands. My assumption is that it would take a couple of years of proven tax revenues from the early adopter States before Wisconsin looked at this area seriously.

In the meantime offshore poker sites are keen to welcome Wisconsin residents to their tables. These sites welcome US players from territories in the Caribbean, and are enjoyed by tens of thousands of players every week. Keep in mind that you play in these games at your own risk from a State law perspective.

What Do The Wisconsin Gambling Statutes Say?

Wisconsin is one of many States that make the ‘bet’ component of gambling the illegal aspect. What they also do is include the fact that a chance event may also involve some skill, which effectively wipes out any hope of the ‘poker is a skill game’ argument ever getting to court. One curiosity from the law books here is that merely entering an illegal gambling house with the intention to bet is considered a crime – though possibly a difficult one to prove.

Here is the key wording on the illegal ‘bets’ which is the core of the WI gambling code, this is from section 945-01:

A bet is a bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose something of value…

Wisconsin Poker – Summing It Up

The tribal casinos in Wisconsin make this State look more poker friendly than it really is. Without these facilities, there would be no casinos or poker rooms, no home games or charity events and no online gambling on offer either. That would basically leave bar freerolls! Thanks to the investments made by the tribes there are some good mid-sized poker venues which attract tournament tours as well as plenty of local action.

I can’t see Wisconsin regulating online poker games any time soon – however there is no reason to rule this out should the concept be proven by other States.