BRISTOL, Wis. — It is the first full NFL season that sports betting will be legal in Wisconsin. It should mean big business but the biggest competition might be from across the border in Illinois.
The Oneida Casino near Green Bay has been waiting for the start of the NFL season when it comes to sports betting.
"I think here in Oneida, very near Green Bay, we're very excited for this season to open the NFL. We haven't experienced the opening of the NFL season,” said Chad Fuss, the chief financial officer of Oneida Casino.
A change in the state law allowed native tribes to negotiate a gaming agreement with the governor. Oneida Casino was the first place in Wisconsin to have legal sports betting last year on Nov. 30.
"We found it a little bit more challenging because we didn't have a very large audience at the time, and it was new,” said Fuss.
They are expecting a very different experience this year. According to Forbes, a record 46.6 million Americans will bet on the NFL this year. That is 18 percent of the country's population who can legally gamble.
Analyst at USBets.com, Chris Altruda says on top of that, sports betting now has the backing of the NFL, where in the past sports teams shied away from gambling.
"This year already there has been more than $50 billion wagered and the NFL is the primary driver of sports wagering in this country, so to get to that point even before the season is impressive,” said Altruda.
In Wisconsin, the options are limited to tribal lands with state gaming compacts for sports betting. Currently, you can only legally place bets near Green Bay at the Oneida Casino or at the St. Croix Casino in Turtle Lake.
However, if you are in Milwaukee, the closest option for placing a sports bet is just over the state line in Illinois. Their state law says it is legal to place a bet from anywhere in the state online.
"Download the app and you can place a wager almost from start to finish within five minutes,” said Altruda.
It's why Altruda says Illinois might be the biggest competition for Wisconsin when it comes to sports betting. However, he says that could all change since Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee has signed a gaming compact with the governor and should have sports betting by the end of the year.
“Potawatomi is expected to come online at some point during the season and that will be a big draw for Milwaukee because obviously there is a season ticket fan base that makes the trek to Green Bay will be inclined to wager at the casino,” said Altruda.
A counselor at The Wisconsin Council of Problem Gambling says sports betting might be fun for a couple of seconds, but it can lead to a lifetime of pain for people who have a problem. If you or someone you know needs help call 1-800-Gamble-5. You can also visit Wisconsin Problem Gamblers' website to be connected to their online resources.