Nearly two years after voters approved “games of chance” in Nebraska, the state’s racing and gaming commission is set on Friday to approve regulations for retail sports betting. When voters said yes to an expansion of gaming in November 2020, it was unclear if sports betting would be in the mix, but six months later, lawmakers agreed to include it.
Now, after putting proposed regulations out for stakeholder comment, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission is on the cusp of finalizing them and setting a go-live date. The expansion of gaming also included casinos, and the state’s first — War Horse in Lincoln — started offering slot play last month.
Commission responses to stakeholder comments revealed that while wagering will be in-person only, the NRGC intends to have a “diverse” bet menu, much like neighboring Colorado, where the bet menu includes the standard fare plus oddball sports like pesapallo and floorball. The commission also declined to add the phrase a “mobile device located in the sports wagering area,” when one stakeholder suggested that on-site mobile might be a possibility. The law does not allow for digital wagering of any kind.
BMM Test Labs, Caesars (through Bruning Law Group), FanDuel, Global Gaming Nebraska (Chickasaw Nation Oklahoma business arm), and Liz Gau on behalf of the attorney general’s office all submitted comments.
Tax reconciliation, reporting questioned
Among the key issues that arose during the comment period, according to a spreadsheet obtained by Sports Handle, are ones that have risen to the top in other states. The proposed rules suggested that wagering taxes should be calculated daily, which was also an early proposal in Ohio. Because betting wins and losses can swing wildly day to day (think Super Bowl Sunday vs. the dog days of summer), the industry standard is monthly reporting, including carryover.
According to the response from NRGC, it appears that operators will be required to file a monthly report with daily entries, but that taxes will be calculated on a weekly or monthly basis.
Operators also pushed back on a proposed rule that will require them to display wagering odds to the public and via a gaming facility’s surveillance system, but the NRGC responded by saying that it is standard procedure in multiple states, including Indiana, New Jersey, and Virginia.
Explaining to someone that online sports betting is still illegal in Nebraska because the guy that coached our college football team 25 years ago says no. ‘Braska amiright
— kstrucks (@kstrucks) September 3, 2022
Stakeholders suggested including fixed-odds wagering and exchanges within the proposed rules. Exchanges are defined, though fixed-odds wagering is not mentioned. In response to both, the NRGC wrote that each “will need to meet the sports wagering rules and MICS (minimum internal control systems),” which does leave the door open for expansion into those two realms.
Other issues that multiple operators commented on were clarifying language around canceling bets for an “obvious error,” and suggesting that the section on in-game wagering should specifically indicate that such wagering on college teams is prohibited. The new law does not allow for wagering on Nebraska college sports. Former Nebraska Cornhuskers football coach Tom Osborne was among the major voices pushing for no legalization, and at the very least, no wagering on his old team.
Kiosk reconciliation, tracking wagers discussed
Stakeholders offered myriad additional comments and asked for clarifications. Many of the requests were technical, involved more specific definitions, or suggested the swapping out of words. Here’s a look at some other issues that came up and the NRGC’s responses:
- Under the proposed rules, the NRGC wrote that kiosks used for sports betting must be reconciled daily, which is outside the industry norm. FanDuel was among the companies that requested reconciliation on a weekly rather than daily basis. According to the NRGC response, it appears the change will be made.
- A proposed rule requires that “the collection of table game drop boxes be performed at least at the end of each gaming day. Each bill validator must be dropped at least once every four days.” FanDuel suggested changing the language to reflect that bill validators be collected every seven days or when full, and NRGC is amenable to the change.
When we the people of Nebraska voted to expand gambling in our state we knew that would include sports betting and betting on Nebraska. We voted FOR it. The legislature has failed to enact the will of the people.
Court challenge coming?
I freaking hope so.
Stupid. Just stupid. pic.twitter.com/fC7CbQHIJ4
— 📻 Tyson Havranek (@Tyson_Havranek) May 13, 2021
- The NRGC agreed to remove a proposed section that would have required that once a patron wagers more than $3,000, every wager of $500 or more by the same patron would be tracked and logged. Representatives from FanDuel and Global Gaming Nebraska wrote that tracking would create an unusual burden and requested that the section be removed.
- One proposed section would have required a “security escort” for any “unredeemed tickets, chips, or cash” totaling $100. A representative for Caesars requested, and the NRGC agreed, to lift the threshold for that to $500.
- In a clarification, the NRGC agreed that tax information for “patron accounts” would be provided upon request, rather than previous, more open-ended working. Stakeholders pointed out that cash transactions cannot be tracked, and therefore, tax forms cannot be created.
- The NRGC agreed to allow 48 hours to resolve patron disputes, rather than its original proposal for just two hours.