Nebraska Forwards Bills to Legislature to Allow Casino and Betting

Casino and sports gambling could be coming to Nebraska as LB 560, and LB 561 merged on Monday and passed onto full legislature.

Nebraska Pushes Ahead with Casino and Betting Legalization 

A pack of legislative measures that would lead to the legalization of casino gambling and possibly sports betting in Nebraska made it out from the General Affairs Committee and into the legislature, where it would stand more serious scrutiny from legislators.

During the vote, committee members merged LB 560 and LB 561 and passed the resulting proposal with 5-1 in favor, endorsing state residents’ decision dating back to November’s referendum giving the green light to gambling regulation. 

The constitutional amendment voted in allows for the legalization of casino gambling at licensed racetracks with the proceeds to be used on property tax relief. The bill made no word-for-word mention of sports betting, one of the most touted aspects of the country’s gambling industry.

However, retired football coach Tom Osborne argued that the bill would naturally pertain to sports betting as well as casino gambling. This view is shared by Sen. Tom Briese, who sponsored both legislative bills and argued that “games of chance” related directly to a casino as well as sports betting gambling. 

Sports Betting as Game of Chance 

Sen. Justin Wayne seconded Briese’s opinion arguing that sports betting was indeed on the cards for Nebraska. Not everyone was happy with the proposal, though, with Sen. John Lowe arguing that merging multiple bills to make for a gambling industry’s blanket-legalization was not to his taste. 

Should sports betting pass as per the current bill, it would be highly restricted. Mobile and online wagering are off the table, with sports bettors obliged to attend designated areas earmarked for the activity. 

The state would also prohibit betting on underage athletes who participate in college and university championships and ban gambling on credit, which is one of the best countermeasures against gambling addiction. 

Protecting Consumers from Gambling Harm 

Individuals who have a proven track record of gambling problems would be added to a special exclusion list and not be allowed on the premises of racetracks and gambling-designated areas. Nebraska would expect high standards from its gambling entities, looking into individuals and companies who apply for gaming operator licenses.

The state also wants to arrive at a clear-cut taxation scheme to collect proceedings from gambling venues and pour them back into the state coffers. Simultaneously, Nebraska would criminalize various gambling offenses, including manipulating or cheating at slot machines or making gambling accessible to underage individuals. 

Should both casino and sports betting gambling be allowed, Nebraska would have to create a single regulatory unit. Presently the state only runs the State Racing Commission, but the commission may change its name and certainly its remit. 

Nebraska is flirting with the idea of mobile gambling but in a very limited capacity. Essentially, players would be allowed to play keno from a mobile app providing they are in the exact location where the physical game is taking place. 

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