There is a Growing Demand for Online Nebraska Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Feb 21, 2024 07:00 PM
There is a Growing Demand for Online Nebraska Sports Betting

Though Nebraska sports betting operations have yet to be live for a full year, there is already a mounting call to broaden the state’s legal gambling operations.

This expansion, of course, refers to one specific component: The implementation of online sports betting in Nebraska. Granted, no formal push is being made. Various legislation has previously been introduced, but never really taken off.

The delay behind the Nebraska sports betting rollout is no doubt partially to blame. While The Cornhusker State first greenlit sports gambling all the way back in 2021, services didn’t officially go live until November 2023—roughly three months ago. The initial agreement stipulated only Nebraska on-site sports betting would be legal. Certain lawmakers attempted to amend the terms during the intervening years. Those efforts, though, proved to be fruitless.

And on some level, this reluctance to include legal online sports gambling comes as no surprise. Many Nebraska lawmakers were hesitant to approve on-site wagering in the first place. The idea of making sports betting operations even more accessible on an even larger scale never appealed to a large swathe of key figures. It’s also hard to make changes to Nebraska sports betting laws when the original ones hadn’t yet been put into practice. Even now, a few months into the sports wagering era, it’s hard to see the state considering wholesale changes or addendums until betting operations are live for a full year.

At the same time, consumers and select government officials are already clamoring for more. And with the 2024 Nebraska legislature meetings currently in session, the topic is bound to come up. Does that mean we could see changes made this year?

Recent Geotracking Data Supports Interest in Legalization of Online Nebraska Sports Betting

As we discussed previously, Nebraska continues forfeiting potential revenue to Iowa sports betting. Indeed, residents of The Cornhusker State have the ability to place wagers at a licensed casino. However, for many, it’s actually easier to cross state lines and process wagers with one of the many operational online sportsbooks in the United States.

This trend is fueled by two prevailing factors. Firstly, Nebraska sports betting operations don’t yet have enough locations to support the entire state. That’s why many support the licensing of race tracks, as well as the addition of other tracks. The state’s population may not be among the most dense. Geographically speaking, though, Nebraska is one of the largest states in the country. That means people—and potential bettors—are spread out. Not everyone lives within a convenient distance of a casino.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, online sports betting in the United States continues to be on the rise. Gamblers value the accessibility and instant gratification that it promises. Placing bets remotely allows them to remain at home and save time. There is no beating that convenience. This is why a vast majority of wagers placed in the USA are processed through online sportsbooks. Nebraska’s officials know this. And by extension, they also know they’re missing out on potential revenue. Some have even openly spoken about it.

“We know clearly that Nebraskans are going to continue to wager on athletics,” Senator Eliot Bostar of Lincoln recently said, via the Omaha World-Herald. “It’s just a question of whether or not we want to capture that revenue in order to provide other tax relief or if we want to see that revenue go over to other states as we are currently doing.” 

Could Online Sports Betting Legislation Be In The Cards For Nebraska?

Judging by the interest in Nebraska online sports betting from both consumers and certain government officials, the natural question is when, not if, The Cornhusker State will expand their operations. For the time being, that issue remains unresolved. 

However, as the Omaha World-Herald’s Joe Dejka noted, Senator Bostar is already trying to extend the boundaries of sports gambling laws in Nebraska. For example, he has already proposed a measure that would allow Nebraskans to bet on in-state college football events. At the moment, residents can only wager on in-state football programs when they’re playing outside the region. It isn’t clear whether this proposal will pass; it’s still sitting with a committee for consideration. 

Still, if Senator Bostar’s measure does go through, it may signal a willingness for Nebraska to consider meaningful changes. Even more critically, some opponents of Nebraska sports betting are starting to understand that the legalization of online services may not just be inevitable, but necessary. From Dejka’s recent piece:

Senator Lou Ann Linehan of the Omaha area said she’s not a fan of gambling, but the river crossings raise questions about cost and impacts in Nebraska. ‘If we have hundreds of Nebraskans betting in our surrounding states, including Iowa, at the very least we need to understand the impact on Nebraskans,’ Linehan said. ‘Are we paying the social costs without being able to offset it by the fees and taxes Iowa is collecting?’”

Senator Ann’s sentiments are, quite literally, a multimillion-dollar question. And if we’re being honest, it’s one with a very clear answer. Whether The Cornhusker State chooses to accept that in 2024 remains unclear. But given what we know, we’d expect online sports betting in Nebraska to be legalized within the next two or three years…at most.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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