Oneida Casino launches legal sports betting in Wisconsin

Sandra Brehmer placed one of Wisconsin's first legal sports bets: 'I think it's great'

Sports betting terminals at Oneida Casino
Oneida Casino in Green Bay launched its sports betting terminals on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. It’s the first legal sports betting in Wisconsin. Megan Hart/WPR

It’s been more than a decade since Louise Cornelius signed on as general manager of gaming at Oneida Casino. Legal sports betting was always something she hoped to offer.

“I didn’t think it was going to come to life,” she said. But now it’s a reality after more than five years of planning.

Just a few miles from Lambeau Field, visitors to Oneida Casino in Green Bay can bet on just about any game across sports — minus those involving Wisconsin colleges. The state’s first legal sportsbook will increase foot traffic and bring in new customers, Cornelius said.

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Large display boards show the odds for dozens of different games, and a wall of televisions allows fans to follow live action.

Sandra Brehmer and Alma Webster — nicknamed the Oneida Bingo Queens for the profitable games they’ve been running since 1976 — placed the first bets Tuesday morning. Brehmer put a few dollars on the New Orleans Saints, who will play the Dallas Cowboys this week. She watches football all the time, and she likes the Saints, she said.

“It’s awesome, to think we’ve come this far and to see this operation and to be able to employ as many of our own people as we possibly can. I think it’s great,” she said.

If Brehmer wins, she’ll just have to bring back her receipt to receive cash, Cornelius explained.

Oneida Nation Vice Chair Brandon Stevens speaks alongside members of the Business Committee on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. The event marked the first day of legal sports betting in Wisconsin. Megan Hart/WPR

Oneida Nation signed an amendment in July to become the first Wisconsin tribe to offer legal sports betting.

“As we know, sports betting is surely nothing new in Wisconsin. But legal sports betting is,” said the tribe’s Vice Chairman Brandon Stevens.

Supply chain issues have made headlines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and slow delivery delayed the start of legal sports betting at Oneida Casino. The machines were originally supposed to be delivered in September.

Now there are more than a dozen kiosks where people can place bets, as well as staff members to assist them.

Online sports betting still isn’t allowed in the state. Experts said it might not have a huge economic impact when the Oneida Nation and state officials reached an agreement earlier this year to allow sports betting. However, it could prompt other tribes to pursue similar opportunities across Wisconsin.

Today most states offer legal sportsbooks in some form.