It’s official: legal sports betting is coming to the state of Nebraska… but it’s not exactly what in-state bettors had been hoping for.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts applied his signature to LB 561 on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, officially legalizing retail-only sports betting in the state of Nebraska. You read that correctly – sports betting in Nebraska will only be available in-person at a licensed retail sportsbook.
While betting has technically been legal since 2021, it’s worth noting that online sports betting has not launched yet in the state of Nebraska. Below we’ll cover why it’s taken years to roll out, when bettors in Nebraska can expect to have access to retail betting, and how the state arrived on its
What’s happening now with Nebraska sports betting
We’re still waiting! It’s actually been years since LB 561 was signed in to law in the state of Nebraska, so why are sportsbooks still not available in the state?
The long and short of it is that LB 561 simply created a framework for sports betting in the state… and not just sports betting, casino gaming and keno were also included in the same piece of legislation. But even with the frame set, there’s a lot of work still to be done. In-state regulators have working for years to bring these betting options to NE.
Nebraska sports betting updates
- May 27, 2021 – Governor Pete Ricketts officially signs LB 561 into law. In-person betting at retail gambling facilities and racetracks becomes legal in Nebraska, but a firm launch date for the platform remains elusive.
- March 18, 2021 – Bill LB 561 passes in the Nebraska state legislature, outlining some of the rules and regulations for retail sports betting platform in the state.
- November 20, 2020 – the date of the referendum that gave Nebraska citizens a say on whether or now to allow retail casinos for the purpose of launching in-person legal sports betting. Nebraskans said “Yes” to the measure and kicked off the process of legalization in the state.
- May 14, 2018 – was the date that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. It paved the was for individual states to have their own say on the subject of legal sports betting.
Bill LB 561
It is easy to criticize the slow pace of legalization in the Cornhusker State, and the lack of a mobile option. But things have actually moved forward in Nebraska. Bill LB561 was signed into law by Gov. Pete Ricketts on May 27, 2021, and the Nebraska Gaming Commission was created. It detailed a few of the rules and regulations for Nebraska’s legal sports betting scene.
- In-person betting at designated approved casinos or racetracks only
- Bettors must be 21 years of age or older to place legal sports bet in Nebraska
- Bets will be carried out through kiosks at those facilities, or any other method identified by the Nebraska Gaming Commission Bettors are mandated to physically be in designated areas in order to place a bet
- Retail sports betting operators must partner with a casino/racino in the state
- Professional, collegiate, international, simulated gaming and individual sports awards will be included in Nebraska’s sports betting menu
- Prop betting and wagers on in-state college teams would remain illegal… for now A 20% tax would be charged on all casino gaming revenue
Nebraska sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Nebraska?
Yes, but it’s not live yet. Additionally, only in-person sports betting is legal – you cannot, and will not be able to bet online.
Is online sports betting allowed in Nebraska?
No, unfortunately not. Nebraska legislators elected to pursue in-person betting only.
When will sports betting launch in Nebraska?
It’s a good question. Having been signed in to law all the way back in 2021, sports bettors in Nebraska are still waiting to place bets. 2023 could be the year.
Is betting on college sports allowed in Nebraska?
Yes, it will be legal to bet on college sports at Nebraska sportsbooks. However, Nebraska-based colleges will be off limits.
Is it legal to bet on the Nebraska Cornhuskers?
No, betting on in-state college teams like the Nebraska Cornhuskers will not be allowed.
What responsible gambling resources are available in Nebraska?
All Nebraska sportsbooks will offer resources for and encourage responsible gambling practices. Call 833-238-6837 or visit https://problemgambling.nebraska.gov/
Legislative road to sports betting in Nebraska
Legal sports betting has officially been on the radar in Nebraska for years, since voters had their say in 2020, and approved retail sports wagering in their state.
It took six months for the state’s legislature to pass a bill, outlining some of the lawmakers’ ideas of just how to bring about legal sports betting in the state. May 27, 2021 was the date that lawmakers agreed to a framework that would bring about a retail-only sports betting landscape.
Rules and regulations to support Nebraska’s May 2021 retail sports betting platform plan have been very slow to develop. Nebraskans should expect a separate, dedicated rule-making process to come first, similar to the one that guided the casino gaming industry to be launched and one that detailed Nebraska’s initial legal sports betting rules. Following that process there will be a public hearing and a commission vote.
Online sports betting in Nebraska must wait
Targeting in-person betting instead of online betting is an interesting approach. There is some debate about the strategy here – some feel that the retail-only path was the quickest way to see legal sports betting come to Nebraska and that it would be easier to add mobile sports betting on to any Bill rather than arguing for it right off the bat. However, it hasn’t exactly played out like that with the lengthy wait. The casinos to house the retail Nebraska sports betting providers have to be built/completed and specific rules for such a platform are still in the works.
Sports betting pressure from neighboring states
Nebraska has competition within their own region, making the roll out of legal betting more crucial. It’s not ideal to be losing tax dollars across state borders. Among its six border states, just Missouri has failed to move on any sort of legal sports betting regulation. Kansas made their move most recently and Wyoming, Colorado, and Iowa, also support full online sports betting markets. South Dakota to the north does allow for legal sports betting, but its only available in the city of Deadwood at specific retail establishments.
Sportsbook locations in Nebraska
The new NE sports betting rules put six Nebraska racetracks on the radar to build and launch their own retail sportsbooks. Each location is entitled to one Nebraska sports betting licenses. The locations of those facilities are:
- Atokad in South Sioux City
- Fairplay Park in Hastings
- Lincoln Race Course in Lincoln
- Horseman’s Park in Omaha
- Agricultural Park in Columbus
- Fonner Park in Grand Island
Nebraska’s native tribes, that currently run their own brick-and-mortar casino facilities have not yet been brought into the legal sports betting fold. It remains to be seen if any expansion of a Nebraska legal sports betting scene will include the state’s tribal gambling entities.
Sportsbook companies aiming for Nebraska
It remains to be seen just which providers will be participating in Nebraska’s retail-only legal sports betting industry. The lack of a mobile betting industry will prevent many of the nation’s best sports betting brands from joining the fun in Nebraska.
That said, FanDuel and DraftKings, each of which currently run their DFS platforms in Nebraska likely won’t be scared off by the retail-only requirement. Each are a familiar name to Nebraskans and each already has an infrastructure in place in the Cornhusker State that could be modified to allow for sports betting. FanDuel and DraftKings are primarily an online betting platform however, they have dabbled in retail before.
Others sports betting operators that could have interest in launching in the Nebraska market include:
- Caesars – Caesars is always in on any new state launching a legal sports betting platform. They are active in a host of Nebraska’s neighboring states
- BetMGM – MGM has a strong presence in the region thanks to sportsbooks in Colorado and Iowa
- BetRivers – roots in the midwest, so Nebraska a connection here could make sense
- Barstool Sportsbook – The reach of Penn National could help with expansion to Nebraska.
Sports betting bonuses in Nebraska
While most states with online sports betting are replete with lucrative offers – from deposit match bonuses, to bet insurance, to no deposit offers – since Nebraska will be a retail only betting state the options will be substantially fewer. Once retail sportsbooks begin to accept wagers in Nebraska we recommend checking with your local sportsbook to see what options they have for new customers.
Eligible betting markets in Nebraska
Nebraska looks likely to accept action on all of the most popular sports to bet on around the world. These include:
- Football (professional and college)
- Basketball (professional and college)
- Baseball (professional and college)
- Combat Sports (MMA/Boxing)
- Motor Sports
- Table Tennis
- Australian Rules
- Beach Volleyball
Betting on college sports is will be allowed in Nebraska
As previously mentioned, college sports are expected to be included in the Nebraska sports betting menu. However, there is a provision in the already-outlined rules prohibiting wagers on in-state college teams. Betting on the Cornhuskers won’t be allowed.
Approved bet types in Nebraska
A comprehensive list of bet types is more synonymous with the most progressive and successful legal sports betting jurisdictions in the country. Nebraska certainly isn’t, and without changes won’t be considered one of those states. Early legislation has already, curiously, ruled out much of the prop betting opportunities. This includes player props on college athletes which have been signaled out as a “no-go” for Nebraska bettors.
With that being said, all of the sports betting staples should be possible for sports betting in Nebraska:
- Spread – oddsmakers determine what they think a winner of a given match will win by. You bet against that “Spread.” An example is the Denver Broncos as 3-point favorites (-3) over the underdog Indianapolis Colts (+3). If you bet on the Broncos, they must win by over 3 points (called covering the spread) for the bet to cash. If the Colts lose by less than 3 or win outright (also known as covering the spread), your wager on the Broncos will fail.
- Totals – otherwise know as the Over/Under, bettors place a wager on the total number of points/goals that they think will be scored in a given game. Oddsmakers have a predetermined “Total” set, and bettors bet on whether the combatants of a sporting event go “Over” or stay “Under” that predetermined amount.
- Moneyline – simply betting on the winner of a given contest. Payouts of favorites will be smaller than one of underdogs in this bet type.
- Futures – betting on the outcome of future sporting events such as the winner of next year’s Super Bowl, Conference champions in a given league or the eventual MVP of that league.
- Parlays – Ideal for combining two or more bets into one. You can combine two or more different sports, wagers from different sports or multiple betting opportunities within the same game. Parlays are notoriously tougher to win than straight-up bets, but the payoff for a winning parlay bet is more lucrative.
Legal sports betting a win for Nebraska
Legal sports betting has been shown to provide states with impressive amounts of tax revenue. Retail-only sports wagering platforms in particular, create jobs and will bring people to the betting venues, however, if Nebraska is to maximize its betting potential it will need to pursue mobile sports betting.
To this point Nebraska has worked towards legal betting with baby steps. In-state bettors will have to hope that once it arrives, retail betting in the state will just be a stepping stone to online wagering.