Nebraska Legal Sports Betting Remains without a Timeline for Rollout

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Sep 4, 2022 08:00 PM
Nebraska Legal Sports Betting Remains without a Timeline for Rollout

Roughly one year has passed since Nebraska legal sports betting was signed into law. And yet, after all that time, the general population residing in the Cornhusker State still hasn't received a definitive start date for when legal sports betting in Nebraska will actually begin.

This lack of clarity on a timeline has led to a mounting outrage among the public and sports betting enthusiasts. The clamoring for certainty is so loud now, in fact, that a handful of officials from the Nebraska Gaming Commission have been compelled to come out on the record in an attempt to put out the fire.

“I understand people’s frustration," Tom Sage, the Executive Director of the commission, recently said. "They think, ‘It was on the ballot, approved by the people. Why isn’t it happening now?’ It’s a long, detailed process and with sports wagering, we’re starting from scratch.”

Attempts to quell public outcry, however, have not worked so well to date. Pretty much anyone who cares about Nebraska legal sports betting wants to know when it will actually take effect. And if they're going to tone down the (justifiable) complaints, it's on the state and Gaming Commission to do a better job explaining what goes into the installation process.

As luck would have it, though, we've dug into some of the holdups plaguing Nebraska sports betting. Let's see if we can shed some light on what's fast becoming a contentious matter.

Rolling Out Nebraska Legal Sports Betting is a Complicated Process

The biggest hurdle facing Nebraska legal sports betting has always been the state's lack of gambling infrastructure. It is easier to implement legal sports betting in the United States for places that already have a footprint in the industry.

Consider a state like Texas, for instance. They have yet to legalize sports betting. However, they do allow Daily Fantasy Sports. They also have an extensive list of casinos operating within state lines. And on top of that, Texas has a robust lottery system.

Nebraska has no such gambling infrastructure. Their state is new to the entire process, in every imaginable form–except for horse racing. That means Nebraska has to build an entire portfolio of protocols from scratch.

“The pace to get where we are might not be what some wanted, but there were and are many important things to cover," Chris Kotulak, CEO of the Fonner Park horse racing facility in Grand Island, recently explained. "The Racing and Gaming Commission needed to create an entire collection of casino regulations and that takes time.”

Critics might argue Nebraska has so far been given plenty of time to get their sports betting rollout together. After all, it's been more than a year since Nebraska sports betting was signed into law. What's more, this lack of progress is further complicated by the limited capacity in which sports betting will be allowed down the line.

Online Sports Betting Not Part of Nebraska's Legalization

Once legal sports betting officially comes to Nebraska, it will not include the ability to place wagers with online bookies. Those terms were not part of the bill that was signed into law more than 12 months ago. Indeed, users will be able to process transactions through sports betting apps, but only when they're using applications backed by casinos and are actually on-premise.

Limiting the rollout of Nebraska sports betting to essentially in-person wagers is the state's way of trying to preserve revenue. All of the online sportsbooks that would jump at the chance to receive a license aren't actually located within the state. They would pay their licensing fee and taxes but not funnel any additional money into the local economy. The latter has proven to be a sticking point for government officials, as well as many Nebraskans. Casinos create jobs, and if they're also the only sports betting game in town, it theoretically increases the amount of revenue that goes directly to the state.

Opponents of this view argue that in-person gambling is no longer prescient. More than three-quarters of all legal sports bets were placed online during 2021. Equally important: Simply disallowing online sports betting won't actually stop Nebraskans from engaging in it. As it stands, there are number of sites from our list of the top online sportsbooks that will permit people from the Cornhusker State to create an account and being placing bets. And this says nothing of the business Nebraska will lose to residents traveling across state lines or just flat-out gambling illegally.

Still, state officials have generally argued that their stringent betting policies will be worth it. Nebraska is charging a 20 percent tax rate on sports betting revenue, which is double that of many other states in the midwest. Officials believe they remain in line to reap lucrative benefits, especially because they've committed to using 70 percent of all proceeds to alleviate property taxes for residents of the state.

When will Nebraska Get Legal Sports Betting?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide a concrete answer to this question. With that said, the answer may lie in the lack of responses from people in the know.

Even as officials from the Nebraska Gaming Commission preach patience, they continue to resist providing a potential timeline for their rollout. This means we can reasonably assume that the state is nowhere near wrapping up their prep work.

By extension, then, we can also presume that Nebraska has no intention of unveiling a sports betting system by the end of 2022 or the start of 2023. From the sound of things, it seems as if the state will remain without anything more than temporary legal sports betting structures until at least the end of 2023, if not the start of 2024.

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

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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