DraftKings, FanDuel Decline to Fund Push for Nebraska Online Sports Betting Legalization

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 21, 2024 08:00 PM
DraftKings, FanDuel Decline to Fund Push for Nebraska Online Sports Betting Legalization

The push to legalize Nebraska online sports betting in 2024 is officially over.

This news comes as some surprise. Bigwigs across the industry teamed up to conduct a poll determining voter interest level in Nebraska online sports betting. That survey inevitably showed 57 percent of respondents supported the legalization of online sports betting in the Cornhusker State. While not an overwhelming share, it does represent a majority.

What’s more, FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars sportsbooks were among the sponsors of this poll. Their interest and backing is seen as critical to any push that legalizes online sports betting in Nebraska. Surely the survey results are enough to advance their interest in the market, right?

Apparently not.

These top online sportsbooks in the USA recently declined to sponsor a petition that would put Nebraska online sports betting on the November 2024 electoral ballot. Hence the (minor) surprise here.

And yet, is this really a surprise? Or is there more to this story? Let’s find out.

Interest in Nebraska Online Sports Betting Not Definitive Enough to Command Financial Support from Major USA Sportsbooks

To this point, no concrete reasoning is being offered to explain the failed petition. Experts within the state, however, believe the support for Nebraska online sports betting isn’t definitive enough to convince FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, etc. to spend millions of dollars advancing the cause.

Here’s some insight from Andrew Wegley of the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska:

“February’s poll showed that 57 percent of respondents signaled support for the constitutional amendment, said Lance Morgan, the CEO of Ho-Chunk, the parent company of WarHorse Gaming, which operates physical sportsbooks in Lincoln and Omaha. But the group of national sports betting companies that helped commission the poll has declined to fund a petition drive to put the matter to a vote this November, Morgan said, which was expected to cost between $5 million and $7 million.

“‘If you’re at 57 (percent support), it creates some possibility that you could lose unless you really were to put substantial resources into it,’ Morgan told the Journal Star on Monday. ‘It doesn’t make any sense to go to war unless you have a war chest lined up.’ The coalition would have had to conduct an ad campaign and likely hire paid petition circulators to gather roughly 122,000 valid signatures — including 5 percent of registered voters in at least 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties — by July to get the issue onto the 2024 general election ballot.”

Does this mean USA online sportsbooks would fund the Nebraska online sports gambling push if 60 percent of poll respondents were in favor of the amendment? Would they need an approval rating of 70 percent? Or 80 percent? Perhaps more?

Time is Also an Issue for Online Sports Gambling Legalization in Nebraska

We can’t be sure what type of approval rating would spring FanDuel, DraftKings and company into immediate action. Speculatively, we’d wager on a 65 percent approval rating or higher would have rendered this a different discussion.

Then again, maybe not.

Gathering signature support from 5 percent of registered Nebraska voters is a tall order under the current timeline. The month of April is just about gone. That leaves around two, maybe two-and-a-half, months for the Nebraska online sports betting petition to net the mandated amount of signatures. 

Indeed, FanDuel and DraftKings have the financial and functional resources to meet such a tight deadline. But it’s still narrow enough to incite the hesitation we’re seeing now. Especially when coupled with a slight majority voicing support for online sports wagering in Nebraska.

It also doesn’t help matters that the Cornhusker State isn’t a glitzy market. Nebraska is 37th of 50 states in total population, according to recent census data. The financial upside for big-time online sportsbooks is limited.

Attach this reality to the coin-toss level of support, and the risk appears to outweigh the reward. For instance, let’s say FanDuel and DraftKings split the cost for Nebraska online sports betting petition. That’s at least $2.5 million apiece. Is it an ironclad guarantee to make that money back in the first year, assuming the measure gets approved?

Are People Underestimating Nebraska Online Sports Betting Revenue Potential?

To be honest, we don’t believe FanDuel or DraftKings feared the financial commitment. Just look at the state of Kansas online sports betting. The Sunflower State ranks 39th out of 50 states in total population. That’s not a big difference from Nebraska—though, it amounts to roughly 1 million residents.

Anyway, the Kansas sports betting market is faring just fine with online wagering. In March 2024, for example, the state took in nearly $250 million worth of total wagers. That’s the third highest amount in the state of all time, according to BetKansas.com. Most of that money was funneled through online sports betting sites. There is no doubt FanDuel and DraftKings would have recouped their investment and then some if Nebraska online sports betting is legalized.

The operative word here appears to be “if.” A 57 percent approval rating isn’t definitive enough to make assurances. Remember how many voters seem to want California online sports betting in 2022? It was a lot. But then the bill legalizing it flopped at the polls. 

For Nebraska online sports betting to demand a more aggressive push, the numbers on this poll must tilt more in favor of legalization. And that’s not bad news. While 2024 is now out of the question, interest in Nebraska sports betting online is clearly high enough to prompt change in the near future.

 Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs:

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    Bovada
    5/5
    50% bonus up to $250
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetOnline
    4.5/5
    100% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    BetUS
    5/5
    125% up to $2,500
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Xbet
    5/5
    $500 Sign-up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • MyBookie
    5/5
    50% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Bookmaker
    4/5
    100% up to $400
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Sportsbetting
    4.5/5
    50% up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EveryGame
    3/5
    $500 Sign Up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • WagerWeb
    4.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetDSI
    3/5
    100% up to $500 + $500 at BetDsi's Casino
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4/5
    100% up to $450
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

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...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read our affiliate disclosure here.