- Nebraska Bill Would Add Sports Betting to New Casinos
- Electronic Keno Amendment Threatens Gambling Expansion
- The Legislative Debate Continues
Regulated sports betting and full-service casinos may soon come to Nebraska. Currently, the state only offers pari-mutuel horse racing tracks. But during the November 2020 elections, state voters overwhelmingly backed casino gambling. The constitutional amendment called for the racetracks to be expanded into full-service casinos.
When debating how to implement the voters’ will, lawmakers are now considering adding sports betting to the measure.
Nebraska Sports Betting Regulation
Implementing new casino rules gave Nebraska lawmakers an opportunity to create new revenue streams. State Senator Tom Briese (R-Albion) sponsored LB561, a casino implementation bill that includes sports betting.
Because voters only passed a law regarding casinos, sports betting has to receive a supermajority of votes. Nebraska has a unique unicameral legislature, meaning there is no other chamber involved with LB561. To pass, the measure must receive at least 33 votes after a final reading. During the first round of votes, LB561 received 37 votes.
While the proposal may change or be amended, currently the measure allows bettors to wager on in-state contests. In Nebraska, where Huskers football rules the state economy, this would be a boon for potential betting operators.
Online Keno Provision Threatens Nebraska Gambling Expansion
Though Nebraska sports betting would only be offered at the newly licensed casinos, opponents continue to fight against LB561. A late amendment added electric or online keno gaming to the casino bill. Sen. Briese, LB561’s sponsor, believes eKeno could sink the entire gambling expansion.
Over Sen. Briese’s objection, lawmakers voted to keep the eKeno provisions in the bill. It is unclear if gambling opponents are purposefully trying to weigh-down the casino and sports betting bill. Those against sports betting object that voters only approved traditional casino gaming. However, the referendum’s language referred to games of chance, which arguably includes sports wagers.
The Nebraska unicameral legislature is in session until June 10, 2021. There is plenty of time for more twists and turns as gambling expansion receives a full hearing.