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Nebraska is inching closer to making sports betting a reality in the Cornhusker State. While there are still a few more steps to go, all signs point to a successful launch in the coming months. Initial plans are for a relatively limited rollout but legislation isn’t set in stone.
Few Questions Remaining
Sports betting rules were approved unanimously by the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission (NRGC) on Friday, October 21. This means sports betting in Nebraska’s racetrack casinos is one step closer to being a reality, with final approvals still needed by Attorney General Doug Petersen and Governor Pete Ricketts. A concrete timeline for this wasn’t shared during the meeting but it usually takes a few months to get there.
While it’s unclear exactly when people will be able to place real bets on sports, the general rules on what and how they can do it are relatively straightforward. Sports betting will still have to take place at a horse racetrack casino, and the restrictions on in-state Nebraska collegiate games and events are still in place. This puts the approved rules in line with what the Nebraska Legislature adopted earlier.
Online sports betting won’t be offered according to the latest framework, either. This means that sports betting will be strictly limited to only in-person betting at the state’s horse racetrack casinos – no online bets outside or inside the establishments will be available for now. However, getting in-person sports betting, and casino betting, of course, was exactly what 65.01% of Nebraskans wanted, as the results from Initiative 430 showed back in the 2020 elections, so it’s definitely great news.
Comparisons with the Other States
Illinois is very similar in its sports betting framework, as it too has a ban on betting on games involving its college teams. In contrast, though, Illinois is in the conversation when it comes to legalizing online sports betting, which Nebraska is still shying away from doing for now. While the reasons for this aren’t strictly defined by officials, online sports betting and all other forms of iGaming are definitely something to consider in the future.
Nebraska’s notion to legalize sports gambling only in situ with horse racetrack casinos could be construed as relatively restrictive, and the added investment cost of building casino complexes with racetracks is definitely a contested point of discussion. However, it is hard to argue when the casino implementation model results in $286,000 in taxes for its first operational week, as was the case with WarHorse’s Lincoln Casino.
While the result was impressive, it was online gambling that kept the industry on life support during the global pandemic, and multiple states have already shown that iGaming is a very prospective industry outside of that as well, with New Jersey and Michigan illustrating what the market is capable of in the US. So, it would probably be wise for Nebraskans to take notice and consider it if not for the state’s immediate gaming plans, then at least for some time in the foreseeable future.