Nebraska is not the first name of a state that comes to one’s mind with regards to gambling, but the efforts of State Senator Justin Wayne seem to take real shape and form, as the Senate General Affairs Committee is scheduled for February 10 to hear the bill that seeks to legalize poker by declaring it a game of skills, along with sports betting and fantasy sports games.
Limited Games in Tribal Casinos
Having only four tribal casinos, Ohiya Casino & Resort in Niobrara operated by Santee Sioux Tribe, Lucky 77 Casino in Walthill operated by Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, Iron Horse Bar & Casino in Emerson and Native Star Casino in Winnebago, both operated by Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, with all four offering video bingo and slot machines only, the availability of games in the state are somewhat limited and the relatively new to the legislature senator Wayne is determined to expand the gambling options in the state, by presenting to the General Affairs Committee LB990, the Games of Skill Act.
Definition of Poker
Besides defining poker as a game where the element of chance due to the random cards dealing has a lower influence on the final outcome compared to the individual skills and strategic thinking, LB990 goes into poker specifications, setting up two types of games, draw poker and community cards poker, even outlining certain games such as five card draw, Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em.
Setting up Registration Regime and Fees
In addition, the bill introduced by the Omaha-born state senator sets up a $10,000 fee state registration regime for poker operators, annual renewals at the cost of 6% of the gross gaming revenue of the operator calculated for the preceding 12-month period but paid annually, capped at $10,000, with all the money from fees going to the Games of Skill School Property Tax Reduction Fund, as well as creates a new division within the Department of Revenue, the Charitable Gaming Division, to oversee poker operations.
Legislature Still Has to Decide
The senator is adamant that if the state wants to implement long-term tax relief, it has to explore new sources of revenue, with receipts from gambling presenting one of these, and his initiative to legalize poker, sports betting and fantasy sports games is the right step in that direction, but actually passing the bill through the legislature of Nebraska that has only one house would require a 3/5 majority which calculates to 30 out of the 49 total votes and may not seem that easy to achieve.