Legal Sports Report

Nebraska Sports Betting

Sports betting in Nebraska is not currently legal after the state’s best chances at passing a bill failed to gain any momentum in 2020.

Sen. Justin Wayne championed Nebraska sports betting and other forms of gambling through multiple bills in 2020. He suggested the state was losing too much potential tax revenue to bordering Iowa ever since the Hawkeye State legalized sports betting in 2019.

Wayne’s bills never made it out of committee, meaning sports betting will not become legal in Nebraska until at least 2021.

The future of Nebraska sports betting

Nebraskans are going to bet on sports. Whether or not that’s within the Cornhusker State is completely up to the legislature.

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 May 1.

And those are just the current options. South Dakota residents will vote on sports betting in November. If passed, the state’s legislature will work out the details in 2021.

Kansas and Missouri also are top contenders to get a bill passed in 2021.

At some point, Nebraska’s government will decide it wants to keep those tax dollars in the state. But it is unclear when that will happen.

When will online sports betting start in Nebraska?

The timeline for online Nebraska sports betting is still unknown since there’s been little progress made when it comes to legalizing sports betting at all.

It’s also unclear if Nebraska would legalize online sports betting in the first place.

Sports betting could be legalized under the Nebraska Lottery, which is allowed to operate in places with liquor licenses. That means sports betting could take place at bars through the lottery just like pull tabs and keno already do.

There are no commercial casinos in Nebraska. That means legalizing online sports betting could look something like Tennessee‘s untethered model with the lottery acting as the regulator.

Nebraska does have seven tribal casinos, though how sports betting is legalized would depend on whether those casinos could offer betting.

Recent Nebraska sports betting stories

Legal betting options in Nebraska

There’s currently no legal option to bet on sports in Nebraska. 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 bet on in Nebraska

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 would 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.

Nebraska 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 Nebraska?

No. There are no legal sportsbooks in Nebraska in 2020. They might become available in the future though.

Where can I bet on sports in Nebraska?

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.

Nebraska’s hand could be forced by its neighbors that are either looking to legalize or have legalized sports betting.

Can I bet on sports on my phone in Nebraska?

There are no legal options for mobile sports betting in Nebraska at this time.

Attempts to legalize sports betting in 2020 would have allowed for online sports betting, but it’s unclear if the full legislature would support mobile betting.

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.

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