Megan Nel
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There has been a lot of political activity in Wisconsin over the last two days as a result of one of the state’s houses representatives, Tyler Vorpagel, arguing that it might be better for the state to legalize sports betting. Vorpagel’s remarks drew a lot of attention in the state.¬†

This may be a simple sentence, but it is unquestionably a difficult feat to achieve, especially given the gambling-unfriendly nature of Wisconsin and the majority of the states that border it. However, it is well known that wagering on sporting events is nearly impossible to prohibit, particularly in the United States during major events such as the National Football League season or the Super Bowl. 

Residents of states where gambling is illegal must temporarily relocate to neighboring states to participate in gambling activities. That state is Iowa for Wisconsin residents, who flock there by the tens of thousands each year to place bets on their favorite sports teams’ games.¬†

Because we are now in the second week of the 2019 NFL season, Vorpagel may have chosen the best time to push for the passage of this bill in the House of Representatives. Because of this occurrence, betting enthusiasts have already begun to relocate to Iowa to place their bets, potentially costing the state millions of dollars. 

Where Did the Campaign Idea Come From? 

The campaign is entirely focused on the local economies. According to Vorpagel, it is far more beneficial to allow betting locally because it is better to avoid losing this money to neighboring states. 

Because almost all efforts to reduce the negative effects of gambling across the country have been futile, the representative’s argument does have some merit. Indeed, Rose Blozinski, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling and one of the most vocal opponents of this bill, has stated that the annual number of calls received by the council has quadrupled over the previous 25 years.¬†

This line of reasoning may have been presented as a rebuttal to Vorpagel’s proposed bill, but it serves to strengthen the motion even more.¬†

The fact that there is a council for problem gambling in a state where gambling is illegal (aside from tribal land casinos), but there is still an increase in the number of cases, demonstrates that the current strategy is ineffective. 

Why not redirect the funds that are currently being channeled outside of the state into either state-owned betting companies or a locally privatized sector while a new strategy is developed? The revenue generated by the taxation of these forms of gambling can then be used to treat gambling addiction. 

Is it state-owned or private? 

The next question is whether or not these businesses should be owned by the state if they are legalized

The argument for these is that if the state had direct control over the gambling industry within its state, it would be in a much better position to regulate problematic gambling. Setting a limit on the amount that can be bet and not requiring players to meet any minimum requirements are the first things that come to mind. 

However, we are all aware that competition and the quality of service provided to customers are the factors that drive the industry to be beneficial to the local economy. It is unlikely that any additional benefits will result from limiting it within the parameters of the law and effectively monopolizing it under government control. Because the money would have to be invested in these businesses, it is entirely possible that the economy as a whole would suffer as a result. 

There is already an extremely successful model for a state-run and state-owned industry. However, it does not necessarily exist in the US market; as a result, both the understanding and the implications may be very different. 

The illustration is used to demonstrate the point in Norway. The country does allow betting, lottery games, and even gambling games; however, these activities are all owned and managed by a state-commissioned entity. 

As a result, the environment is not friendly to customers, as the chances of winning are already extremely low, and the return is nowhere near what is offered elsewhere. 

As a result, interested citizens are forced to seek out betting opportunities outside of the country. This is typically accomplished through several online Norwegian bookmakers registered in other countries but serving the local population. 

This not only deprives state-commissioned companies of income but also depletes the regional treasury’s resources as a result of the efforts to keep the business running.¬†

Numerous politicians are constantly advocating for the industry’s privatization, but their efforts are ultimately futile.¬†

An illustration like this should make it abundantly clear to Wisconsin legislators that incorporating the sector into a state-run monopoly would result in far more headaches than it is worth. 

Is it okay to pass the bill? 

The legislation has not yet been written, but legislators have plenty of time to complete it before the start of the NFL season in 2020, which is exactly one year away. As a result, they have a lot of time to run a campaign about this bill in which they can try to gain support and raise public awareness. 

In this case, it will be more important to gain support from house representatives, and only then will it be possible to narrow it down to the general public. 

There is a good chance that those opposed to the bill will provide stiff competition. Arguments such as the rise in problem gambling are bound to arise, but as previously stated, there is a perfect counterargument in the form of redirecting anticipated profits to fight addiction. 

Furthermore, there is always the possibility that additional states will follow the same path as those that have already legalized sports betting. We have already seen states like Minnesota take on this issue recently, and they have run very successful campaigns on it. 

What will the result be like? 

Once their efforts are noticed, those who advocate for the bill will begin to gain the support of other representatives. Several meetings will be held in the Senate to further simplify the bill and define its general direction as well as its primary objectives. 

It will likely outline goals such as a brighter economic future for the state, as well as additional funding to help bring problem gambling under control. 

After enough campaigning, there will almost certainly be a referendum in which both the Wisconsin House of Representatives and the general public will express their preferences by simply selecting “Yes” or “No” on a ballot.¬†

If the bill receives overwhelming support, it will be passed in around Q2 of 2020, and local entrepreneurs and businessmen will be encouraged to set up shop as soon as possible before the big NFL 2020 season.¬†But for the time being, it’s all about drafting the bill and developing a comprehensive promotion strategy.