Rubber duck races are a common site across the state, but did you know, they can actually be illegal? The races are ruffling feathers as the State Department of Justice says the events are considered gambling. But one area state lawmaker is looking to change that.
The East Twin River in Mishicot's Village Park is empty but for a few fisherman right now.
But during Riverfest each summer, you'll find hundreds of rubber duckies floating down stream in the Mighty East Twin Duck Race. People buy ducks and hope one of their floating friends crosses the finish line first for a chance at a $1,000 prize. Proceeds go to causes like the local volunteer fire department and sportsmen's club.
"It just gives people another fun kind of option for a way to get involved in supporting their community," ssaid State Representative Andre Jacque of DePere.
But not everyone sees it that way.
Rod Scheuer is the Chairman of Riverfest. He told FOX 11 in an email, the Justice Department sent a letter to the Village of Mishicot. That letter said the duck race is illegal gambling.
We were unable to reach the DOJ for comment.
But in the letter the department says the village could be prosecuted for anything from a misdemeanor to a felony for operating what it calls a lottery. Only the state can do that.
According to Scheuer the village has a raffle license, but the duck race is different.
Scheuer told us the duck race is considered a lottery, because when the ducks are put in the river they don't all start at a uniform starting line, which means the playing field isn't as equal as a raffle.
"Government doesn't always pass the common sense test," said Jacque.
So the state representative is working on a bill he says does make sense.
Under the bill, non-profits could apply for duck races licenses under the same umbrella as raffle licenses.
Jacque told us this doesn't just affect Mishicot. Several other Wiscosin communities have the races from Madison to the Ducktona 500 in Sheboygan Falls.
"Our very own state tourism website promotes events like the Ducktona 500 at the same time that other state agencies are saying they constitute illegal gambling," Jacque explained.
Jacque told us he hopes to bring his bill up for votes in the legislature later this fall.
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