Madison Players Fighting for Legal Poker in Wisconsin

With all of the attention that’s focused on spreading online poker throughout the United States, it’s easy to forget that there are still states where the legal status on live games is murky. Wisconsin is one such state because different jurisdictions decide whether or not they’ll tolerate live poker. One county might allow bar tournaments on a weekly basis while another county will shut the games down.

Seeing as how Wisconsin is the home state of 13-time WSOP champion Phil Hellmuth, this just doesn’t seem right. The Madison Poker Club are in full agreement, which is why they’re taking steps to rectify the situation.

Michael Hanson Explains the Legalize Poker Mission to TwoPlusTwo

Michael ‘BIG SH00TER’ Hanson appeared on TwoPlusTwo to explain his group’s efforts to fully legalize live poker in the Badger State. Here’s an excerpt from what Hanson writes in regard to where the movement currently sits:

A small group of Madison poker players have started an effort to hire a lawyer and issue a declaratory judgement to define the legality of live poker within the state of Wisconsin. The current Wisconsin gaming statue (945.01) does not specify poker as being directly included under the definition of a wager or bet. Instead, what is considered gaming or not is left open to interpretation of local law enforcement based on whether a game is predominantly one of skill or chance. The language in the statute does not specifically speak to poker but does say that a bet does not include “bona fide contests of skill” = which by recent federal and state rulings, scientific studies and our general knowledge, poker is clearly such a contest and therefore should not be included in Wisconsin’s definition of gambling and should be as legal to play for money as pool, darts, golf or other contests of skill.

Hanson Hopes Wisconsin Casinos Will Join the Fight for Legalized Online Poker

Hanson goes on to write that he hopes Wisconsin casinos will join his fight because a ruling in poker’s favor could potentially allow anybody to open a cardroom in the state. He adds that a favorable ruling might also help open the door for online poker too since it would be deemed a skill game and have one less hurdle to clear.

At this point, the Madison Poker Club have raised about $5k of the $10k needed to hire their lawyer, a “former Assistant Attorney General” and “former Legal Counsel for Governor Doyle.” So it may be a while before this movement really picks up steam. But given that live poker is only 100% legal on tribal grounds in Wisconsin, it’s nice that something has started in the state. And who knows…maybe we’ll see Wisconsin online poker within the next five years.

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