Last week, Rep. Tyler Vorpagel (R-Plymouth) circulated a co-sponsorship memo for LRB 2122, a bill proposing to “legalize” and “regulate” Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) games.  The bill would legalize online gambling and represents the largest expansion of gambling in Wisconsin’s history.

In response, Wisconsin Family Action and Citizens Against Expanded Gambling have launched a statewide campaign to oppose this massive expansion of gambling.  Combined, these two groups represent over 22,000 Wisconsin citizens who oppose any expansion of gambling. These citizens are being encouraged to contact their legislators and hold them accountable.

Additionally, a digital awareness campaign, statewide robo calls to citizens who oppose online gambling, a statewide tele-townhall briefing and legislative office visits are underway.  “We’ve  jointly  held statewide information forums on this issue to educate citizens about the dangers of expanded gambling with an emphasis on legalizing DFS.  To date, we’ve held 14 events with over 550 attending. We have 8 more scheduled for this fall.  When the people find out the truth about this issue, they are appalled and  committed to doing what they can to stop it,” says Lorri Pickens, Executive Director of Citizens Against Expanded Gambling.

The proposed “Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) bill” allows the state to force internet gambling into nearly every home, every dorm room and onto every smart phone in the state, a far greater expansion of commercialized gambling than constituents, legislators and state media have been led to believe.

“The point of this DFS bill is to give the appearance of regulation and create the impression this is being done on behalf of consumers. However, no consumer protection groups are advocating for DFS. Only the industry itself is advocating for ‘legalizing’ and ‘regulating’—a situation which should give any lawmaker pause,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action. “What industry has ever sought to regulate itself?”

Gambling expansion in Wisconsin is currently occurring in multiple ways:

  1. The Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature approved $143 million in expansion for four of the tribe’s six gaming facilities.
  2. The proposed 2017-2018 Wisconsin State Budget calls for a $1 million increase in lottery advertising to increase the number of tickets sold annually.
  3. Proposed off-reservation casinos in Beloit and Shullsburg are pending approval from the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

As is well documented, gambling is addictive; and opening up online gambling, such as DFS, will result in more problem gamblers, more gambler indebtedness, and more broken families. Online gambling does not put money back into the economy; but rather makes it more difficult for problem gamblers in particular to be productive, contributing citizens, helping to enrich the local and state economy.

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