Nebraska does not have legal sports betting, and the state is not getting in on the sports betting boom anytime soon. The Nebraska constitution bans casino gambling, and the state’s elected officials are standing pat in pursuit of legal sports betting. The only movement in that direction is a petition drive that would seek to legalize casino gambling at the state’s six licensed horse tracks under a proposal by the Winnebago Tribe and the Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Association.
Since the Supreme Court decision on May 14, 2018 struck down the federal ban on sports betting (PASPA), states have been proposing legislation to legalize sports betting. A total of nine states have legal sports betting as of early May, 2019.
Nebraska has no commercial casinos. But Nebraskans’ money is funding other states priorities, and specifically Iowa with four neighboring casino’s across the border. Estimates show that more than $320 million of revenue, or greater than 25% of all casino revenue in Iowa, is funded by residents of Nebraska. Casino’s operate commercially in border states like Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Missouri and South Dakota.
Expanded gambling would generate millions of dollars in new state tax revenue for property tax relief, education funding and even to fund treatment for problem gambling.
But until the state wakes up to the reality that sports betting is a realistic way to generate revenue, and that their residents are supporting other states gambling interests instead of its own, then residents of Nebraska will be unable to pursue wagering on their favorite sports like college football, basketball, baseball or the most bet on sport, pro football.
Legislation Updates on Sports Betting in Nebraska
The Winnebago Tribe and the Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Association made up of thoroughbred owners and trainers, notified the Secretary of State’s office in April that they want to collect signatures to get the issue on a statewide ballot in 2020.
The proposal would amend the state’s constitution and legalize gambling, as well as enact laws to regulate casino gaming. If approved, organizers say the state could collect taxes on some of the approximately $500 million a year that residents currently wager in surrounding states.
Nebraska Online Sports Betting Legal Updates
Federal laws permit residents to gamble legally over the Internet. The Federal Wire Act does not make it illegal for Nebraska residents to participate in online sports betting at licensed offshore sportsbooks that are located outside of the United States. However, a new opinion from the US Department of Justice broadens its interpretation of the Wire Act to cover internet gambling. The implications on the industry remain unclear pending a set of enforcement guidelines from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).
Nebraska residents can bet on sports online with these out-of-state and offshore gambling operators, as licensed offshore sportsbooks are located outside the jurisdiction of the US federal laws. There is no legal punishment that has yet occurred to residents for betting illegally offshore or at sites not based in the U.S. However, choosing a reputable and well-financed sports book that is licensed and regulated through a respected governing jurisdiction is recommended. Sports book operators could elect to not pay winnings to residents of the state where the sportsbooks are not legal. Minimum age to bet online is 21.