A majority of Nebraskan senators approved Legislative Bill 561, regulating sports betting and allowing people to play online keno, and allowed it to move forward towards the next round.
Sports Betting Regulation Bill Moves to the Second Round
On Wednesday, during the Nebraska Legislature session, state senators approved Legislative Bill 561 to move forward with a 37-5 vote. The measure could see the formation of a Nebraska Gaming Commission, which will merge with the State Racing Commission.
LB 561 will advance towards the second round of consideration. Nebraska voters passed the measures last November. State Sen. Tom Briese of Albion, who introduced the bill, stated that he would have opposed it in the past. Now he wants the government to hear the will of Nebraskan voters. After Nebraskans decided to approve gambling in the state, lawmakers are eager to regulate the industry.
Legislative Bill 561 Raises the Minimum Age for Betting to 21
The bill includes three ballot measures approved by voters. It allows casino gambling at licensed horse racetracks. Sports betting would be allowed only in casino facilities, as opposed to anywhere on the racetrack. It would prohibit wagering on high school sports events, minor leagues, or any other games that include athletes under 18, even in international sporting events like the Olympics.
Betters would have to be at the age of 21 or older. The bill also bans credit cards use in casinos, and it also includes a voluntary ban for risk-gamblers. Gaming operators would have to go through background checks to acquire licenses.
The bill’s part on sports betting restrictions passed with a 31-10 vote. The members also voted 26-18 to keep the provision that allows people to play online keno if they are physically present in facilities where keno is permitted.
Gambling Opponents Raised Their Concerns
Opponents questioned whether or not voters supported sports betting in the state and pointed out the problems created by gambling.
According to the opposition, the measures do not mention sports betting. But Briese and Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha stated that sports betting falls under all “games of chance” at the racetrack casinos and that the bill will set limits to sports wagering.
“This isn’t about whether you like sports betting. This isn’t even about whether you like gambling or not. The issue is whether you want regulations around it or not,” Wayne said.
Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston stated that online keno would make people lose money faster because the apps would have to link to the player’s bank account or credit card.
According to the Speaker of the Legislature, Mike Hilgers of Lincoln, the new commission would bypass the regulation process and carry out ballot measures, which would leave out elected officials from the rule-making process.