Gamblers at Oneida Casino near Green Bay can now legally bet on sports, a first for Wisconsin
Note: The story has been updated to note that Oneida Casino will offer betting on all professional sports, as well as college sports other than games featuring Wisconsin college teams. A revision also corrects the name of the American Gaming Association.
ONEIDA – The Oneida Nation will start to take sports bets this week as its new gaming compact amendment with the state takes effect.
It will be the first time legal sports betting takes place in Wisconsin.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for Tuesday at the tribe’s main casino, at 2040 Airport Drive near Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, with Oneida “Bingo Queens” Sandra Brehmer and Alma Webster scheduled to place the first bets.
Brehmer and Webster are credited with starting and operating the most profitable bingo games in Wisconsin, starting in 1976 in the pre-tribal casino era, that became one of the largest revenue generators for the tribe at the time.
“Sports betting is nothing new here in Wisconsin, but legal betting is new,” said Louise Cornelius, Oneida Nation gaming general manager. “We hope to provide an environment for our clientele that is clean and up-to-date with the best technology possible.”
Chad Fuss, Oneida Casino chief financial assistant, said the tribe is aware that illegal sports betting has been happening in many states.
“I think we would be naïve to think that it has not been happening in Wisconsin,” he said.
A study released this summer by the New American Gaming Association found that customers are moving their sports betting business away from illegal bookies toward legal options that are becoming available in more states.
The Oneida Nation has partnered with a company called International Gaming Technology to provide the software and infrastructure for the sports betting experience, Fuss said.
“We feel the system is user-friendly for our employees while taking bets as well as very user-friendly for our customers who may utilize the option to use on one of our kiosks to make a bet,” he said.
Oneida officials say customer feedback suggests sports betting will will be a successful endeavor for the tribe.
“Based on the number of emails and phone calls that we receive on a daily basis from all over the state, we do know that there is a large customer base awaiting the opportunity to make legal bets,” Fuss said.
Sports betting will be available only at Oneida’s main casino at first and not at the other two gaming facilities on the reservation. The compact with the state regulates that wagers be taken only on the reservation.
Potawatomi officials, who run a casino in Milwaukee, released a brief statement this summer that suggested their tribal nation will seek a similar compact with the state.
“The Potawatomi look forward to bringing sports betting to Milwaukee in the future,” the statement read.
Tribal officials from the other nine Indigenous nations in Wisconsin that operate casinos have not publicly commented about sports betting.
Gamblers at the Oneida casino will be able to bet on the state’s three professional sports teams: the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers.
Fuss said the casino also will be able to offer wagers on other events, such as the Oscars, but the focus will be on sports for the time being. That includes all professional sports, as well as college sports, except for Wisconsin college sports.
Midwestern states Michigan, Iowa and Indiana made sports gambling legal in 2018.
The Oneida Nation employs nearly 2,000 people in the Green Bay area.
Sports betting in Oneida was originally scheduled to start in September, but was delayed due to a delay in the delivery of equipment.
Report For America corps member based at the Green Bay Press-Gazette covering Native American issues in Wisconsin. He can be reached at 920-228-0437 or email@example.com, or on Twitter at @vaisvilas_frank. Please consider supporting journalism that informs our democracy with a tax-deductible gift to this reporting effort at GreenBayPressGazette.com/RFA.