Oneida Casino locks in legal sports betting

The wagering milestone was celebrated by players who’ve helped the gaming facility grow over the years

By John McCracken

The Oneida Casino (2020 Airport Dr) debuted Wisconsin’s first sportsbook on Nov. 30. The casino is now home to 12 machines where bettors can wager on a variety of sports. John McCracken photo

It’s now legal in Wisconsin to put 100 bucks on the Bucks.

The Oneida Casino (2020 Airport Dr) debuted Wisconsin’s first sportsbook on Nov. 30. The Oneida Tribe is now the only place in Wisconsin where bettors can wager on a variety of collegiate and professional sports—from hockey to horseracing—except for Wisconsin universities and events with child participants.

“As we know sports betting is surely nothing new in Wisconsin, but legal sports betting is,” Oneida Vice-Chairman Brandon Stevens said at the Nov. 30 opening ceremony. “Right now it is legal to offer this in 50 states. We are proud to be the first in the state and we will set the bar high for having the best operation in Wisconsin.”

There are 12 sports betting machines inside of the Oneida Casino. The bright displays show a variety of statistics for upcoming games, all backdropped by massive television screens playing live sports from a variety of fields and arenas around the country.

Gaming General Manager Louise Cornelius said the process of getting sports betting into the Oneida Casino has been over a decade in the making. She said she’s been employed with the casino various times in the past couple of decades. In 2009, when she came back to her position, she said one of the first things she wanted to implement was legal sports betting in Wisconsin. Her goal was met 12 years later.

“This takes the dedication of a large, experienced team,” Cornelius said. “It requires trust, perseverance, collaboration and commitment.”

In July, Governor Tony Evers and Oneida Chairman Tehassi Hill signed a compact amendment that expands allowable gaming at Oneida Nation casinos and its affiliate locations throughout Wisconsin to include event wagering.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Administration, “event wagering” can include sports and events such as nationally televised award shows, professional sports league drafts, and professional sporting events such as the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball.

Wagers are not allowed on outcomes of elections of public office or for events where the majority of participants are under 18 years old.

Cornelius said while she doesn’t know all the nitty-gritty details of the sports statistics, the casino is fully equipped with knowledgeable staff who can help answer questions and break down the layers and numbers behind the bets.

“So what this does is to increase traffic for us,” Cornelius said. “It means increasing our availability and amenities for our guests to come place sports bets.”

Owe it all to the Bingo Queens

Sandra Brehmer and Alma Webster placed the first-ever legal sports bets in the state of Wisconsin on Tuesday morning.

The duo—dubbed the “Bingo Queens of Oneida”—are known as the originators of a highly profitable and successful bingo league in the Oneida Nation during the 1970s. They are also the subjects of the 2014 Wisconsin Historical Society Press book “The Bingo Queens of Oneida: How Two Moms Started Tribal Gaming in Wisconsin.”

Sandra Brehmer (left) and Alma Webster placed the first-ever legal sports bets in the state of Wisconsin on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Known as the “Bingo Queens,” the duo founded a highly successful bingo league in the Oneida Nation during the 1970s. John McCracken photo

The two began a bingo league inside of a civic center on the Oneida Indian Reservation. Brehmer said the league started to pay the bills for the civic center and support programs that benefitted the youth and elderly inside the community.

Brehmer said the late Oneida Chairman Purcell “Percy” Powless was responsible for their affectionate title.

“When he’d introduce us at meetings—even in Vegas or a gaming meeting or something—we were always ‘his bingo queens,’” Brehmer said.

The duo said when the bingo parlor started, they would use corn and beans as winnings. Now, some 40 plus years later, Webster said seeing the gaming facility grow to its current size and being a part of this momentous part of its history is “exhilarating.”

“There’s a lot of players here,” Brehmer said. “It isn’t just Alma and Sandy. There are so many players as we were growing that helped us out along the way. It was just like a big effort by a lot of people.”

Given the fact that it’s a bye-week for the Green Bay Packers, both Brehmer and Webster said they placed their bets on the New Orleans Saints winning against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.

The duo will have to wait till after the game to collect any potential winnings.

Oneida Casino sportsbook hours of operation:

  • Sunday through Thursday: 10 am to 11 pm
  • Friday and Saturday: 10 am to midnight

*The sportsbook opens at 9 am for Green Bay Packers’ home games

John McCracken is the Editor of Green Bay City Pages. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @jmcjmc451.

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