Hosting meat raffles and other popular fundraisers that use paddlewheels could still slap you with a felony in Wisconsin after Gov. Tony Evers on Friday vetoed a bill for the second time that would have legalized the practice.
In his veto message, Evers — much like the last time he vetoed a paddlewheel raffle bill — said the bill in his view is illegal under the Wisconsin Constitution because paddlewheels are too similar in nature to roulette, a distinct form of gambling under state law.
The bill would have allowed organizations with a Class B raffle license to conduct paddlewheel raffles lawfully.
Spinning paddlewheels are used across the state for fundraisers and meat raffles. Under current law, however, the Wisconsin Department of Justice has determined that paddlewheels constitute illegal gambling subject to up to a Class I felony.
“I cannot knowingly sign a bill that I believe is prohibited by our Constitution,” Evers said in his veto message. “While a roulette wheel typically lies horizontally and is spun with a ball to determine the winner based on chance, and a paddlewheel as described in this bill hangs vertically and is spun to determine the winner using a pointer or marker based on chance, this is a distinction without a difference.”
Evers said he thought the expansion of paddlewheel raffles under the bill would further threaten the exclusive rights of tribes in Wisconsin to conduct Class III gaming, as guaranteed under tribal compacts.