Charity rubber duck races have become a common fundraiser in communities across Wisconsin. However, there are new concerns that they might actually be illegal under state gambling laws.
The issue came to the attention of state Representative Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) and Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) after a rubber duck race at the Mishicot Riverfest earlier this summer. Jacque says someone filed a complaint about the race, arguing it was a form of gambling. That prompted a letter from the Department of Justice ordering them to stop the races.
Jacque says funds from those races often go to support many local services and non-profit groups. He also notes that many of the races held throughout Wisconsin are promoted by the state Department of Tourism.
The De Pere Republican and Lasee have introduced a bill that would allow non-profit groups that have a license to operate raffles to also host rubber duck races. He says it’s an appropriate comparison, since the ducks are essentially the same as the balls or tickets used in a raffle and the water is just the container that mixes them up.
Terry Lee, WTAQ