Sports betting in Nebraska is legal after the state legislature passed a bill in May 2021.
Legislators chose to include retail sports betting in Nebraska as part of a larger gaming expansion bill. That bill resulted from a voter-backed measure in November 2020 asking legislators to expand casino gaming offerings in the state.
Sports betting in the state will wait, however, as legislators and regulators still work to determine the best way to set up the Nebraska “racino” landscape.
The future of Nebraska sports betting
When Nebraskans are going to bet on sports is up in the air. The Lincoln Journal Star recently said sports betting is not likely in 2022, perhaps even until 2024. The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission is working to approve casinos at the state’s horse racing tracks, which also might need to build out permanent sports betting spaces before they take bets.
Those wagers, however, will need to be placed in-person at a qualifying facility. Legislators chose not to approve mobile Nebraska sports betting, a move that will limit participation in and revenue generated from betting in sports.
Nearby areas do have mobile wagering choices. Omaha, which has nearly a quarter of Nebraska’s population, sits on the Iowa border. On the other side of the state is Colorado, which launched legal sports betting in May 2020.
South Dakota residents approved sports betting in November 2020, with retail sportsbooks in Deadwood launching September 2021. Kansas and Missouri are discussing bills in 2022.
When will online sports betting start in Nebraska?
The timeline for online Nebraska sports betting is unknown. The 2021 bill allows only for in-person betting in NE, which has yet to launch.
Legislators could choose to revisit sports betting via mobile devices in the future. In fact, that could become likely given the prevalence of mobile sports betting in states surrounding Nebraska.
Those states undoubtedly will generate more sports betting revenue than the Cornhusker State for as long as Nebraska is limited to wagering in-person.
Recent Nebraska sports betting stories
Legal betting options in Nebraska
There’s currently no legal option to bet on sports in Nebraska but that could change by the end of 2022.
Betting on horse racing is allowed through advance deposit wagering apps and at simulcast facilities.
Any website that suggests betting on sports is legal from Nebraska is a website operating outside of US laws. Those sportsbooks are offshore operators that illegally accept bets from US citizens.
Betting through these offshore sportsbooks offer the bettors no consumer protections at all. That means winning bets may not be paid out. Offshore sportsbooks can also close without warning, leaving bettors without an option to cash out their accounts.
While betting on sports isn’t a legal option, daily fantasy sports contests are. Nebraska has not specifically legalized daily fantasy sports but the major operators including DraftKings and FanDuel accept contest entries from within the state.
Most popular sports to wager on in NE
Nebraska doesn’t have any pro sports teams. That doesn’t mean there aren’t crazed sports fans, however.
The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers football team will likely bring in the biggest handle of any events based in the state. Along with the football team, Huskers fans are typically supportive of the other major sports played in the Big Ten.
As for pro sports, football allegiances likely depend on where residents live in the state. The west side of the state is closest to Colorado and the Denver Broncos while the east side is closest to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Nebraska and Daily Fantasy Sports
All of the major daily fantasy sports operators accept contest entries from within Nebraska.
There have been multiple attempts over the past few years to get daily fantasy sports regulated and taxed within the state, though none of that legislation passed.
Is horse racing legal in Nebraska?
Horse racing is legal in Nebraska, as is parimutuel betting on those races.
There are six tracks with live racing dates scheduled for 2020:
- Atokad Park in South Sioux City
- Columbus Exposition & Racing in Columbus
- Fairplay Park in Hastings
- Fonner Park in Grand Island
- Horsemen’s Park in Omaha
- Lincoln Race Course in Lincoln
Simulcast betting can be found at Fonner Park, Horsemen’s Park, and Lincoln Race Course.
Nebraskans can also bet through advance deposit wagering. That means residents can bet on horse racing from their desktops or mobile devices with a variety of companies.
NE sports betting timeline
2020: First major attempt stalls out
Sen. Wayne had three ideas to legalize sports betting in 2020.
One idea included legalizing sports betting as a game of chance. The bill would also have legalized some poker games, as well as daily fantasy sports contests.
The game of chance bill, LB 990, was written ambiguously and left the door open to allow online sports betting as well.
Another bill would have legalized sports betting as a lottery game. A third bill would have put gambling on the ballot and left it up to the state’s voters to decide.
None of the bills gained any momentum and eventually died in committee.
Nebraska sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in NE?
Yes but not quite yet. There are no legal sportsbooks in Nebraska in 2022 but legislators approved the practice in May 2021 and the state is pending launch of its industry.
Where can I bet on sports in NE?
There are currently no legal options to bet on sports in Nebraska.
Sportbook regulation and legalization happen at the state level. Any website that accepts bets from throughout the US is an offshore operator and doesn’t have a valid US license.
Those websites offer zero consumer protections for anyone within the US. There is no legal recourse for a bettor to recoup unpaid winnings or account balances should the sportsbook close.
Can I bet on sports on my phone in NE?
There are no legal options for mobile sports betting in Nebraska at this time.
Attempts to legalize sports betting in 2021 were successful, but only for betting in-person.
Neighboring states Iowa and Colorado have mobile sports betting. Colorado allows for remote registration while Iowa requires bettors to complete the registration process at a casino.