945.01   Definitions.
945.02   Gambling.
945.03   Commercial gambling.
945.035   Certain slot machines on licensed premises.
945.04   Permitting premises to be used for commercial gambling.
945.041   Revocation of license and injunction against gambling devices.
945.05   Dealing in gambling devices.
945.06   Public utilities to cease service.
945.07   Gambling by participants in contest.
945.08   Bribery of participant in contest.
945.09   Commercial printing.
945.095   Shipbuilding business.
945.10   Prizes forfeited.
945.12   Endless sales chains.
945.13   Interstate transportation of gambling devices.
Ch. 945 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See definitions in s. 939.22.
945.01 945.01 Definitions. In this chapter:
945.01(1) (1)Bet. A bet is a bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose something of value specified in the agreement. But a bet does not include:
945.01(1)(a) (a) Bona fide business transactions which are valid under the law of contracts including without limitation:
945.01(1)(a)1. 1. Contracts for the purchase or sale at a future date of securities or other commodities, and
945.01(1)(a)2. 2. Agreements to compensate for loss caused by the happening of the chance including without limitation contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life or health and accident insurance;
945.01(1)(b) (b) Offers of purses, prizes or premiums to the actual contestants in any bona fide contest for the determination of skill, speed, strength, or endurance or to the bona fide owners of animals or vehicles entered in such contest;
945.01(1)(cm) (cm) Participation in bingo or a raffle conducted under ch. 563.
945.01(1)(d) (d) Pari-mutuel wagering subject to ch. 562.
945.01(1)(e) (e) Participation in a lottery conducted under ch. 565.
945.01(1)(f) (f) An agreement under which an employee is given an opportunity to win a prize, the award of which is determined by chance, in return for the employee making a referral or identification described in s. 945.01 (5) (b) 2. h.
945.01(1)(g) (g) Participation in a savings promotion program under s. 186.114, 214.595, 215.137, or 221.0329 or a program sponsored by a federally chartered financial institution, or in which a federally chartered financial institution participates, that meets all requirements for a savings promotion program under s. 186.114, 214.595, 215.137, or 221.0329, including an agreement under which a person is given an opportunity to win a prize after depositing money in an account at a credit union, savings bank, savings and loan association, bank, or federally chartered financial institution.
945.01(2) (2)Bookmaking. “Bookmaking" means the receiving, recording or forwarding of a bet or offer to bet on any contest of skill, speed, strength or endurance of persons or animals.
945.01(3) (3)Gambling machine.
945.01(3)(a) (a) A gambling machine is a contrivance which for a consideration affords the player an opportunity to obtain something of value, the award of which is determined by chance, even though accompanied by some skill and whether or not the prize is automatically paid by the machine.
945.01(3)(b) (b) “Gambling machine" does not include any of the following:
945.01(3)(b)1. 1. A device used in conducting a bingo occasion or raffle under ch. 563, used in conducting a lottery under ch. 565, or used in conducting a race under ch. 562.
945.01(3)(b)2. 2. Any amusement device if it rewards the player exclusively with one or more nonredeemable free replays for achieving certain scores and does not change the ratio or record the number of the free replays so awarded.
945.01(3)(b)3. 3. An amusement device involving skill, if it rewards the player exclusively with merchandise contained within the amusement device proper and limited to prizes, toys and novelties, each having a wholesale value which is not more than 7 times the cost charged to play the amusement device once or $5, whichever is less. In this subdivision, “skill" means, within an opportunity provided for all players fairly to obtain prizes or rewards of merchandise, a player's precision, dexterity or ability to use his or her knowledge which enables him or her to obtain more frequent rewards or prizes than does another less precise, dextrous or knowledgeable player.
945.01(4) (4)Gambling place.
945.01(4)(a) (a) A gambling place is any building or tent, any vehicle (whether self-propelled or not) or any room within any of them, one of whose principal uses is any of the following: making and settling bets; receiving, holding, recording or forwarding bets or offers to bet; conducting lotteries; or playing gambling machines.
945.01(4)(am) (am) “Gambling place" does not include a place where bingo or a raffle is conducted under ch. 563, where a lottery is conducted under ch. 565 or where a race is conducted under ch. 562 and does not include a gambling vessel that is in the process of construction, delivery, conversion or repair by a shipbuilding business that complies with s. 945.095.
945.01(4)(b) (b) Evidence that the place has a general reputation as a gambling place or that, at or about the time in question, it was frequently visited by persons known to be professional gamblers or known as frequenters of gambling places is admissible on the issue of whether it is a gambling place.
945.01(4)(c) (c) Any gambling place is a public nuisance and may be proceeded against under ch. 823.
945.01(5) (5)Lottery.
945.01(5)(a) (a) A lottery is an enterprise wherein for a consideration the participants are given an opportunity to win a prize, the award of which is determined by chance, even though accompanied by some skill.
945.01(5)(am) (am) “Lottery" does not include bingo or a raffle conducted under ch. 563, a savings promotion program under s. 186.114, 214.595, 215.137, or 221.0329 or a program sponsored by a federally chartered financial institution, or in which a federally chartered financial institution participates, that meets all requirements for a savings promotion program under s. 186.114, 214.595, 215.137, or 221.0329, pari-mutuel wagering conducted under ch. 562 or the state lottery or any multijurisdictional lottery conducted under ch. 565.
945.01(5)(b)1.1. “Consideration" in this subsection means anything which is a commercial or financial advantage to the promoter or a disadvantage to any participant, but does not include any advantage to the promoter or disadvantage to any participant caused when any participant learns from newspapers, magazines and other periodicals, radio or television where to send the participant's name and address to the promoter.
945.01(5)(b)2. 2. In any game, drawing, contest, sweepstakes, or other promotion, none of the following constitutes consideration under this subsection:
945.01(5)(b)2.a. a. Listening to or watching a television or radio program.
945.01(5)(b)2.b. b. Filling out a coupon or entry form that is received through the mail or published in a newspaper or magazine, if facsimiles of the coupon or entry form or handwritten and other informal entries are acceptable or if no purchase is required.
945.01(5)(b)2.c. c. Furnishing proof of purchase if the proof required does not consist of more than the container of any product as packaged by the manufacturer, or a part of the container, or a facsimile of either.
945.01(5)(b)2.d. d. Sending the coupon or entry form and proof of purchase by mail to a designated address.
945.01(5)(b)2.e. e. Filling out a coupon or entry form obtained and deposited on the premises of a bona fide trade fair or trade show defined as an exhibition by 5 or more competitors of goods, wares, or merchandise at a location other than a retail establishment or shopping center or other place where goods and services are customarily sold; but if an admission fee is charged to the exhibition all facilities for obtaining and depositing coupons or entry forms shall be outside the area for which an admission fee is required.
945.01(5)(b)2.f. f. Visiting a mercantile establishment or other place without being required to make a purchase or pay an admittance fee.
945.01(5)(b)2.g. g. Using a chance promotion exempt under s. 100.16 (2).
945.01(5)(b)2.h. h. An employee referring a person to the employee's employer to purchase goods or services from the employer, or identifying for the employer a person who may purchase goods or services from the employer, regardless of whether the employee who makes the referral or identification is compensated in any manner for the referral or identification.
945.01(5)(b)2.i. i. A deposit of an amount of money in an account that results in an entry in a savings promotion program under s. 186.114, 214.595, 215.137, or 221.0329 or a program sponsored by a federally chartered financial institution, or in which a federally chartered financial institution participates, that meets all requirements for a savings promotion program under s. 186.114, 214.595, 215.137, or 221.0329.
945.01(6) (6)Wire communication facility. “ Wire communication facility" means any and all instrumentalities, personnel and services, and among other things the receipt, forwarding or delivery of communications used or useful in the transmission of writings, signs, pictures and sounds of all kinds by means of wire, cable, microwave or other like connection between the points of origin and reception of such transmission.
945.01 Annotation The defendant's use of a warehouse to conduct pyramid club meetings was a “principal use" under sub. (4) (a). State v. Dahlk, 111 Wis. 2d 287, 330 N.W.2d 611 (Ct. App. 1983).
945.01 Annotation Evidence of prior gambling activity is necessary to prove the existence of a “gambling place." State v. Nixa, 121 Wis. 2d 160, 360 N.W.2d 52 (Ct. App. 1984).
945.01 AnnotationA video poker machine is not a gambling machine per se. State v. Hahn, 203 Wis. 2d 450, 553 N.W.2d 292 (Ct. App. 1996), 94-2567.
945.01 Annotation The definition of “gambling machine" in sub. (3) is not unconstitutionally vague. State v. Hahn, 221 Wis. 2d 670, 586 N.W.2d 5 (Ct. App. 1998), 97-3065.
945.01 Annotation If the defendant satisfied all the requirements of s. 100.16 (2), it is entitled to the exemption under sub. (5) (b) 2. g. No additional, unstated requirements will be read in. Bohrer v. City of Milwaukee, 2001 WI App 237, 248 Wis. 2d 319, 635 N.W.2d 816, 00-3088.
945.01 Annotation For a machine to fall under the definition of a gambling machine under sub. (3), there is no requirement that patrons actually receive payouts or prizes in exchange for redeemable credits. Champeau v. City of Milwaukee, 2002 WI App 79, 252 Wis. 2d 604, 642 N.W.2d 634, 01-2060.
945.01 Annotation Kiosks that allow customers to pay to play a video game that awards cash prizes based on chance are gambling machines under sub. (3) (a). This conclusion is not affected by the definition of consideration for lotteries under sub. (5) or that subsection's exclusion of in-pack chance promotions under s. 100.16 (2). Likewise, the kiosks are no less gambling machines just because they can also be used for non-gambling purposes, including cellphone charging and limited gratuitous use of their video game function. Quick Charge Kiosk LLC v. Kaul, 2020 WI 54, 392 Wis. 2d 35, 944 N.W.2d 598, 18-0947. See also JD Prime Games Kiosk, LLC v. DOR, 2022 WI App 6, 400 Wis. 2d 499, 969 N.W.2d 778, 20-1935.
945.01 Annotation Monies paid by individuals to subscribe to cable TV could be consideration that would make a bingo game offered over cable TV gambling. 60 Atty. Gen. 382.
945.01 Annotation A silent auction is not a lottery because the element of prize is not present. 62 Atty. Gen. 122.
945.01 Annotation Discussing the illegality of Michigan lottery activities in Wisconsin. 62 Atty. Gen. 186.
945.01 Annotation If any element of an Indian tribe's television bingo game occurs off the reservation, it is subject to prosecution under Wisconsin criminal law. 80 Atty. Gen. 332.
945.02 945.02 Gambling. Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor:
945.02(1) (1)Makes a bet; or
945.02(2) (2)Enters or remains in a gambling place with intent to make a bet, to participate in a lottery, or to play a gambling machine; or
945.02(3) (3)Conducts a lottery, or with intent to conduct a lottery, possesses facilities to do so.
945.02 History History: 1977 c. 173.
945.02 Annotation Games such as “Las Vegas nights" constitute illegal lotteries; the law does not exempt benevolent and nonprofit organizations. 70 Atty. Gen. 59.
945.03 945.03 Commercial gambling.
945.03(1m)(1m)Whoever intentionally does any of the following is engaged in commercial gambling and, except as provided in sub. (2m), is guilty of a Class I felony:
945.03(1m)(a) (a) Participates in the earnings of or for gain operates or permits the operation of a gambling place; or
2021-22 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2023 Wis. Act 93 and through all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders filed before and in effect on April 4, 2024. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after April 4, 2024, are designated by NOTES. (Published 4-4-24)