Senators amended the Nebraska sports betting bill on Thursday to ban sports betting on games involving Nebraska sports teams when they are playing on the state and level the playing field for Keno parlor operators.
The two changes were made in an effort to get the votes of fellow senators who opposed the initial bill. The amendment was added on a 31-4 vote.
Lawmakers must now vote on the bill once again before it goes to the desk of Gov. Pete Ricketts who opposed the casino ballot measure but said he would respect the will of the voting public.
The proponents of LB561 now hope that the amendment will ensure that they can get the 33 out of the 49 super majority vote that will be ultimately required to implement the bill on final enactment.
Attracting the Votes of Opposition
Under the amendment, legal Nebraska sports betting would be allowed, excluding the home games of interstate teams. The change would apply to schools including the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Creighton University Bluejays.
That change was added to attract the votes of some senators who oppose Nebraska sports betting because they do not want to legalize sports bets on the state’s collegiate teams, arguing that wagering on their games puts undue pressure on Nebraska’s student athletes.
Protecting Keno Parlors
The new measure also requires keno games played at casinos to operate under the same regulations as other venues that already offer it. Lawmakers agreed to this change to address the concerns of Keno Parlors that were worried about losing business and cities that receive tax revenue from Keno to pay for community projects.
Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, who sponsored the amendment, said that he was motivated largely by an effort to protect keno parlors, particularly the one in Ralston that will be in competition with a casino 10 blocks away. By leveling the playing field, the city of Ralston will continue to secure the “significant source of revenue” from the Ralston keno parlor.