Rubber-Duck-Race Bill Expected to Pass in Wisconsin

LTB logo

Well, thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Justice's decision last year to crack down on rubber-duck racing in the village of Mishicot, having concluded said event amounted to illegal gambling, the Wisconsin legislature has had to intervene.

The state constitution prohibits "gambling in any form," and then of course proceeds to list a bunch of forms that are totally fine. One of these is the "raffle." The constitution doesn't define "raffle," probably on the assumption that most people know what that means, but the term is defined by statute anyway: it is "a game of chance in which tickets or calendars are sold and a drawing for prizes is held." Or at least that's what it was.

On Thursday, the state assembly approved 2013 Assembly Bill 422, which adds rubber-duck races to the definition if, but only if, all enumerated duck-race requirements are met. So, assuming the Senate agrees, the definition of "raffle" would also include:

(2) A game of chance for which tickets are sold, that employs flexible plastic or rubber ducks that are used in a race, and that meets all of the following requirements:

(a) The ducks are placed in a waterway and the first duck to cross a finish line represents the winner of the raffle.

(b) All of the ducks are made to be unsinkable and unbreakable.

(c) A number written in waterproof ink is on each duck and the number is the same as one that is on a single ticket that was sold for the raffle.

(d) All of the ducks are of the same size, shape, and weight.
(e) The waterway is free of obstructions.
(f) The race begins with all of the ducks being held behind a barrier and the barrier then being removed or with all of the ducks being dropped by means of a device into the water at the same time.
(g) All individuals present at the race are prohibited from touching, hindering, or moving the ducks while they are in the waterway.
(h) The winner is determined by the use of a chute or some other entrapment device that is located at the finish line and that traps the ducks, one at a time, in the order that they cross the finish line.
Rubber ducks

And they're off

Anyone wishing to do this must ensure that the duck race conforms to the above rather elaborate requirements, and must pay a license fee of 25 dollars.

To have a duck race.

Involving rubber ducks.

The current version of the bill also provides that other forms of "raffles" might be okay too—basically, the state may approve other kinds of raffles if it wants to but it must approve any duck-race raffle. So now I'm really looking forward to seeing what other things people come up with. 

The state's Department of Gaming doesn't seem to be too happy about that, though, because according to the fiscal estimate prepared for the bill it does not expect to be able to cope with the expected increase in raffle applications, and will need to hire an additional employee for that purpose. So I guess the good news is that the bill will create at least one new job in Wisconsin.

If there were any opposition to the bill, then I suppose the sponsors could pitch it as a "job-creation measure." But there isn't.