Wisconsin Expanded Gambling On the Agenda for Upcoming Town Hall

July 23rd, 2016 | by Jason Reynolds

Expanded gambling in Wisconsin has been a topic of discussion among lawmakers and citizens in the Badger State recently. Those who oppose the potential change are taking to a Town Hall conference to stop additional casinos from being built.

Billed as a “tele-town hall,” it was unclear from the press release on this topic exactly what that signified.

Casino workers Wisconsin gambling expansion

Despite engendering job creation, one organization in Wisconsin is dead set against gambling expansion in the state. (Image: Robert Stolarik/The New York Times)

The meeting, hosted by Citizens Against Expanded Gambling in Wisconsin (CAEG), will be accessible to anyone within the state. Lorrie Pickens, a spokesperson for the organization, says certain jobs, such as those in a casino, aren’t good for the community and economy. She did, however, acknowledge additional casinos would create new jobs.

On the organization’s website, visitors can sign a petition to stop expanded gambling in the Badger state. The organization also accepts donations online to “help the effort to stop the expansion of gambling in Wisconsin.”

According to the CAEG, the cost of gambling far outweighs the benefits. The group blames higher taxes partially on regional casinos and lotteries.

The CAEG hasn’t singled out poker, but believes all forms of gambling are harmful to society. Poker is popular in the state: the Mid-States Poker Tour will host an event in September in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

But Does the Good Outweigh the Bad?

Of course, casinos create jobs, and jobs are essential to keep any community afloat.

In Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the United States, thousands of people work in and for casinos. That includes blackjack dealers, poker room managers, cashiers, bartenders, nightclub bouncers, and dozens more occupations, housekeeping, security, and many more.

But CAEG maintains its stance that communities are better off without those jobs. The organization’s website presents some telling statistics related to gambling.

Per the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling, there are 333,000 residents in the state who have a gambling problem. A helpline received more than 14,000 calls in 2014.

Callers to the helpline, according to the website, have an average debt of more than $46,000. The report doesn’t specify what percentage of that debt comes from gambling.

Do Casinos Attract Crime?

Las Vegas has a fairly high crime rate and the state of Nevada ranks at the bottom of the United States in education. Many believe casinos fan the flames of both of these issues.

According to the CAEG’s findings, 65 percent of gamblers commit crimes to finance their gambling. On top of that, the organization suggests pathological gamblers are 20 times more likely to commit suicide than non-gamblers.

There are currently 24 tribal gambling facilities in Wisconsin. Online gambling, including online poker, is illegal in the state.

Proposals for two additional casinos have been made. The CAEG would like to stop that from happening and will attempt to make its case heard by lawmakers at the tele-conference on Monday.


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