Sports betting is legal in the state of Nebraska but has yet to launch.
The Nebraska Constitution did not allow the legislature to authorize “games of chance.” That meant a constitutional amendment would be needed, which would require a public vote. It took a 4-3 vote by the Nebraska Supreme Court to get the questions on the November 2020 ballot … but they got there.
Sure enough, voters did give their OK for “games of chance,” opening the door for horse tracks to start offering casino games. But it was unclear if sports betting qualified as such a game.
It took a few months, but the legislature cleared up the ambiguity by passing LB 561, giving the new racinos (horse track-casino hybrids) the go-ahead for racinos to offer sports betting. Governor Pete Ricketts signed the bill into law on May 25, 2021.
Mobile/online sports betting was initially included in the legislation, but it had to be removed so the bill could get the votes it needed to pass.
There are six racinos (horse track-casino hybrids) in Nebraska. All sports betting will have to be done in person at one of them. But betting will only be allowed in designated areas within the casino.
The law does not apply to the state’s tribal casinos. But the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act does make it OK for tribal casinos to get involved in sports betting.
Role of the Lottery
Nebraska does have a lottery, but it does not appear as if it will be involved in sports betting in Nebraska.
Professional Sports Team Involvement
There are no professional sports teams in Nebraska to get involved with sports betting. However, college football is immensely popular, but a local college ban was included in the bill.
A new Racing and Gaming Commission was created to oversee the state’s new sports betting industry. Since the only entities covered in the legislation are the new casinos at horse tracks, it is unclear if they will need to go through a licensing process of some sort.
Revenue from the casinos will be taxed at a rate of 20 percent.
Expected Live Date
Despite hopes it might be in place by the 2021 NFL season, sports betting is more likely to launch toward the end of the year or early next year.
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