Nebraska Gov. Ricketts to Decide on Sports Gambling Future

Gov. Ricketts will have to decide on whether he wants to sign the recently passed LB 561 into law, enabling sports gambling in Nebraska.

Sports Gambling in Nebraska a Signature Away 

Nebraska has made up its mind so far as in-state college betting is concerned with the legislature ruling against allowing odds and fixtures on college games that are taking place in the state and involving college sports teams from the state. However, local college teams can be supported when playing out of state. With this decision, lawmakers are hoping to guarantee the fairness and integrity of college-level competitions while sacrificing a fair bit of the potential sports betting handle that the activity could have been generating. 

Legislative Bill 561 passed on Thursday last week with a 44-3-2 vote and is the result of a ballot vote dating to 2020 when voters supported a constitutional amendment that extended gambling at horse racetracks and featured in all sorts of games of chances and not least, sports gambling.

Will Ricketts Side with the People? 

While college sports are excluded, there are high hopes that the rest of the sports gambling contests will be allowed. The decision now rests with Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has until June 2 to make a move or let the bill die. With legislators finding bilateral support for a fairly controversial issue, it would be a waste to see LB 561 sink.

Ricketts has already argued in the past that casinos are a “losing bet,” but he may yet endorse the issue acknowledging the efforts and respecting the will of the legislature. Ricketts’ own opposition sounding from last year hasn’t changed much. According to him, keeping casinos away from Nebraska has allowed residents to live the “good life” and minimize potential social harms.

The governor even argued that Nebraska is the fourth-largest gambling-addicted state in the United States, citing research. While a fair point, one reason why gambling addiction may be proliferating in the state could be because of unlicensed operators operated without proper licensing or concern about consumers’ well-being.

One concern is that Nebraska is effectively surrendering control over enforcing consumer-centric protections by allowing offshore operators too much clout in the state. In light of this, Gov. Ricketts is not likely to act against the referendum, especially given that nearly 65% of the state’s residents support it. 

Nebraska’s Love for College Football Is Strong

The decision to suspend betting on in-state college teams did not come easy for the state, which has a reputation as one of the most passionate places when it comes to college sports. In fact, the state numbered second in a New York Times study that gauged attitudes towards college sports back in 2014. Regardless, the decision incorporated with LB 561 is to keep any, and all were betting on the Cornhuskers Big 10 program beyond residents’. Does this mean that offshore betting on college markets involving the team would thrive?

Perhaps, but as the United States continues to tackle unregulated markets by launching licensed and reliable alternatives, this trend is unlikely to continue. There were voices both in favor and against the prohibition on college sports gambling. Some argued that all that residents should do is drive to Iowa and place that bet, to which Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks responded that they were very welcome to. 

A total of 12 states allow sports gambling on college sports presently, but their numbers are rising as attitudes towards sports gambling as a regulated and trusted industry are improving. 

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