Nebraska Sports Betting Bill Gets Past Round One

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Lawmakers advanced the Nebraska sports betting bill on Wednesday, with state senators approving legislative Bill 561 by a vote of 37-5.

The measure would regulate sports betting and casino gambling in the Cornhusker State. Under the bill, the Nebraska Gaming Commission, which will merge with the State Racing Commission, will be created to undertake that task.

A Clear Mandate

Bill author Sen. Tom Briese of Albion said that he is personally opposed to legalizing Nebraska sports betting and casino gambling. However, he argued that lawmakers received a clear mandate from the people who voted to approved the constitutional amendment. Briese says they need to pass the bill to give guidance to the industry in Nebraska.

LB 561 includes three ballot measures approved by Nebraska voters during last November’s election: Casino gambling would be allowed at the state’s six licensed horse tracks, sports betting would only be allowed in the casinos, and prohibiting betting on high school events, minor leagues, and other sporting events involving athletes under 18 years old. The bill will now move to the second round of consideration. It needs two more votes before heading to the office of Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Some Provisions of LB 561

The legislative bill prohibits patrons from using credit cards in casinos and also includes a voluntary ban on risk-gamblers. The age requirement for horse racing betting patrons was raised to 21 to match that of Nebraska sports betting and casino players. The measure also prevents prop bets on individual performances by athletes from Nebraska.

Purchase of keno tickets from a mobile device or the use of electronic tickets would be authorized at keno operators by persons 19 or older. This change was designed to help protect a revenue stream that currently is the source of funds for community improvement projects.