Nebraska lawmakers merged two pieces of sports betting legislation earlier this week and sent the finished product to the full Legislature by a 5-1 vote. LB 560, which defined sports betting as a game of chance, was folded into LB 561, a broader gaming bill. Voters legalized all games of chance on the November 2020 ballot.
Nebraska is the most recent state to send sports betting legislation to a chamber floor. Three other states — most notably Georgia — have done so so far in 2021.
Under the terms of the beefed up LB 561, Nebraska’s Racing and Gaming Commission would be the regulator and the legal age for wagering would be set at 21. Prop bets on certain college sports and wagering on Nebraska college teams or Olympics would be prohibited and the license for a sports betting operator would be set at $1 million. A portion of sports betting revenue would be earmarked for property tax relief.
Where sports betting would be allowed was a key component of the discussion in merging the bills, and lawmakers decided to limit sports betting to sportsbooks only, rather than anywhere on a racetrack property, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
The Omaha legislature is “unicameral,” meaning it has only one chamber, so once a bill is out of committee, it goes to a floor vote. LB 561 isn’t currently on Thursday’s agenda to be voted on. The legislature meets until June 10.
What’s going on in Georgia?
Here’s a look at where things stand in other states where sports betting is out of committee:
Georgia: Lawmakers here quickly moved sports betting onto the House floor, but when it was up for a vote in late February, HB 86 was pulled from the daily agenda. Multiple media reports say the bill got hung up as part of a disagreement over a voting-rights bill, and Georgia Democratic representatives pulled back on their support of sports betting. The bill is still on the House agenda, but no vote has been taken, and bills must get out of their originating chamber by Friday or they are dead for the session. It’s looking more and more like the decision to legalize — or not — will go to the voters. On Wednesday, a House committee offered up a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to legalize casinos, pari-mutuel wagering, and sports betting, according to Capitol Beat. A bill moving through the Senate would also send the decision to legalize sports betting to the voters in 2022.
House Minority Caucus Chr. Rep. Billy Mitchell says Dems are holding up a bill to legalize sports betting in Georgia not only because of the GOP election reform bills but also because no needs based scholarship was included nor provisions for minority vendors. @wsbradio #gapol pic.twitter.com/JFIdaTYMYz
— Sandra Parrish (@WSBParrish) February 26, 2021
North Dakota: Concurrent Resolution 3032, which would send the decision to legalize sports betting to the voters, and HB 1234, which lays out some infrastructure, both passed the House on Feb. 23. HB 1234 was referred to the Judiciary Committee on March 3, and HB 3032 is awaiting a committee assignment. HB 1234 would allow wagering only on pro teams and would not allow bettors to fund accounts with credit cards.
Wyoming: After members of the state’s House Appropriations Committee delayed discussion on HB 133 on Monday because the meeting had started late and one committee member wanted to get home to “cook for a birthday party,” the committee late Tuesday night voted, 5-0, to move the bill to the House floor. If the bill were to become law, Wyoming would become the second state with legal mobile-only wagering. Tennessee was the first. The bill would allow for statewide mobile gaming with a 10% tax rate, $2,500 application fee, and $100,000 (for five years) renewal fee. The bill would require at least five digital permits be issued and set the legal age at 18. The current bill has an aggressive timeline — should it become law, regulations would have to be approved by July 1, 2021. The legislative session ends on April 2.