Many states have a somewhat vague set of laws when it comes to gambling, however this is not the case in Wisconsin. Poker can fall into a gray area as many class it as a game of chance, and some a game of skill but Wisconsin covers both angles regarding this. Gambling in the state is indeed illegal and the penal code states in section 945.02 that, "Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor: Enters or remains in a gambling place with intent to make a bet, to participate in a lottery, or to play a gambling machine; or Conducts a lottery, or with intent to conduct a lottery, possesses facilities to do so." Bet is the key word in Wisconsin laws and a bet is classed as, “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 specified in the agreement.” Note that chance and skill are both mentioned and as you can see it's pretty tough in Wisconsin but there are ways of getting a game of poker and online poker at sites such as Americas Cardroom welcome players from Wisconsin....keep reading to find out how.
Playing Home Games in Wisconsin
As you can see above, the term 'bet' definitely includes poker as both chance and skill are included in the definition. Therefore the reasoning of many that poker is a game of skill is immaterial here. This means that by the letter of the law then home games are illegal, however we have never heard of this law resulting in a conviction. Unless you are operating an illegal card room of some kind then there is a good chance you will not be bothered as long as you are playing in a private residence. Those however are the facts and should you be wishing to host a game then it may be worth contacting your local law enforcement agency and putting the question to them.
Playing Online Poker in Wisconsin
Wisconsin has not yet gone after online poker players however it is in fact illegal to use a wire communication facility to place a bet. Here, yet again, bet is the key word. This law is to be seen in section 945.03 and relates to telephones and fax machines however it could be translated to apply to the internet too. No-one has ever been prosecuted for playing online poker and we know that the state, as all states, have no way of monitoring your online activity. Many residents of Wisconsin regularly play online without any hassle and do so at such rooms as Betonline Poker, Full Flush Poker and Americas Cardroom. There is no law at federal level and many states are currently in the process of legalizing online poker, indeed New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware already have.
Playing Poker in a Wisconsin Casino
Wisconsin does have casinos and these are owned and operated by Native American Tribes. They are permitted to allow poker on their premises and indeed all of them do. Some smaller establishments will only offer a small amount of tables and a limited variety of games, however the larger resort style casinos have a great poker offering where you can play almost any variation.