Retail Nebraska Sports Betting On Its Way After Governor Signs Gaming Bill

Posted on June 1, 2021
Nebraska sports betting
Posted By on June 1, 2021

Nebraska sports betting legislation was signed by Gov. Pete Ricketts last week.

Ricketts approved the legislation Tuesday, less than a week following the unicameral legislature’s final vote on LB 561, a gaming expansion bill that includes sports betting in Nebraska.

While the governor’s signature was not in doubt after a 44-3 legislative vote and voter mandate, Ricketts previously expressed his opposition to gaming. The bill will allow only in-person sports wagering in Nebraska.

Nebraska voters get wish

In November 2020, voters approved an expansion to offer “games of chance” at the state’s six commercial horse racing tracks. The expansion did not explicitly include sports betting.

Sen. Tom Briese introduced the bill and politicians included retail sports betting in the casino gaming expansion.

“That mandate is they want casinos at racetracks, and the property tax relief they will provide. In doing so, they approved all games of chance, including sports betting and other such games, as a matter of law,” Briese said following its passage.

“I introduced LB 561 to clarify what the voters approved, and provide some parameters that are both consistent with what the voters mandated and consistent with Nebraska values.”

What’s in the Nebraska gaming bill?

LB 561 includes a constitutional amendment to allow for the expansion of gaming in the state.

It establishes a State Racing and Gaming Commission to create and oversee gaming regulations in the Cornhusker State.

Sports betting in Nebraska will be limited to designated areas within casinos. Bettors might place the first sports bets later this year, depending on casino timelines.

Nebraska sports betting limitations

Nebraska lawmakers made some choices that will limit the sports betting revenue the state can generate. The legislation dictates the state levy a 20% tax on casino revenue.

For starters, limiting sports betting in Nebraska to retail sportsbooks will cut down on participation. Bettors can go to neighboring states like Colorado and Iowa to place bets on their phones, or continue to wager illegally.

Secondly, an amendment prohibiting in-state college sports betting in Nebraska was passed to ensure the bill would garner enough votes to pass. In a state without professional sports and that plays home to a major college football culture, that could limit revenue more than the estimated 15% some experts suggest in-state bans can limit a market.

Another state legalizes sports betting

Despite the limitations, Nebraskans soon will be able to place bets on some sporting events in their state.

Ricketts joins a growing number of governors who have signed sports betting legislation into law this year:

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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