Nebraska Lawmakers Continue to Shape the Sports Betting Bill

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Nebraska lawmakers continue to implement changes to legislation on sports betting and electronic keno.

Nebraska’s Gambling Expansion Doesn’t Move Forward

On Monday, the General Affairs Committee voted 7 to 1 not to move forward with the amendment proposed by Sen. Brett Lindstrom, which would have legalized sports betting in the state.

According to committee chair Sen. Tom Briese, the gambling expansion is beyond what voters approve. He didn’t support it along with the majority of committee members. If the bill moved forward, it would have still needed the vote of residents next year.

Sports wagering would still be allowed at the racetrack casinos. Expanding gambling was approved by Nebraska voters last fall. The legislation awaits the second round of debate. Briese stated that LB561 is different than the one, which got rejected.

Gambling expansion could lead to new racing tracks. Horse racetracks could turn to be the biggest winners of such an outcome in Nebraska, as casinos will be tied to their locations.

Online Keno Could Be Taken Out of LB561

Voters approved gambling and wagering at racetracks. The approved LB561 is limited to racetracks and casinos. According to opponents, betting activities, even with limitations to racetracks and casinos, weren’t discussed during the campaign.

Briese also proposed prohibiting all employees, coaches, athletes, referees, and others involved in the games, to bet on them.

Briese initially supported online keno in LB561 after some operators stated that they need to compete with casinos. However, his new proposal would take online keno out. He said that people perceive online keno as an expansion of gambling beyond what the voters have approved.

Although he disagrees with that perception, he would remove online keno from the proposal out of respect for the voters and because he is not sure that it would help keno venues compete with casinos.

Keno is a game that resembles a lottery. Currently, it is in its paper-only form in Nebraska, and players pick numbers on a piece of paper and submit them to the keno operator. People can play keno in bars and keno facilities.

 Nebraska city officials urged lawmakers to permit online keno, worried that casinos will overshadow the game in the upcoming year. The officials argued that this could result in revenue loss. According to them, mobile keno could be an alternative to gambling and allow keno venues to compete with casinos.

Sen. John Cavanaugh stated that he would try to keep online keno in the legislation.

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