Nebraska Sports Betting Bill Allows Wagering on College Football Games

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jan 25, 2023 07:00 PM
Nebraska Sports Betting Bill Allows Wagering on College Football Games

For so long, the launch of sports betting in Nebraska has been a frustrating subject. Though the state signed a Nebraska sports betting bill into law nearly two years ago, back in May 2021, the rollout has yet to take effect. And spoiler alert: Nothing has changed.

Well, except for the terms under which Nebraska will be legalized. It now includes the ability to partake in betting on college football.

This measure has caught some by surprise. In something of an odd development, the Cornhusker State continues to amend the details of their sports betting rollout. That doesn't typically happen after a legal sports betting bill gets signed into law. Certain licensing procedures and monitoring processes are always adjusted and troubleshooted. Sports betting launches are nothing if not teeming with trial and error, after all. For the most part, though, the nitty-gritty legalities of approved proposals don't change after they've been hashed out.

Nebraska, of course, is in a unique position. They didn't need to put any amendments to sports betting bill on another ballot for it to be legal; they are free to make adjustments following its 2020 voter approval. That gives them flexibility to make these changes. And they're apparently taking full advantage of that agency—not to mention the delay in their sports betting launch altogether.

Nebraska Sports Betting Bill Opens Up Legal Wagers to Home College Football Games

Many had hoped Nebraska's latest changes would include the addition of online sports betting. Under their current bill, the state will allow horse racing tracks in 55 of their 64 parishes to open retail sportsbooks and take sports bets. Online sports betting, however, remains explicitly prohibited. 

That has caused quite a furor within the sports betting community. More than 75 percent of all legal sports bets placed in the United States during the 2022 calendar year were processed online. The industry is changing, and online sports betting generally makes wagering more accessible. But accessibility isn't Nebraska's primary concern. Enough of their "parishes" voted in favor of the Nebraska sports betting bill to ensure in-person wagering will be widely available.

Instead, the latest change to the Nebraska sports betting bill will pave the way for residents to invest in college football betting odds. Many states, including Nebraska, have been reluctant to take this step. Allowing wagers to be placed on games played by athletes who may be underage, on campuses in which half of students aren't old enough to legally gamble, is seen as an ethical gray area. Officials worry about the risk of underage gambling when so many people under 21 years of age will be exposed to onslaughts of sports betting advertisements and promotional programs.

Still, without the approval of online sports betting, this feels like a necessary addition. Nebraska is not home to any professional sports franchises in the four major North American leagues. That's not much of a problem if you're giving people access to online sportsbooks. But you want to have your biggest sporting draw on the gambling docket if you're only permitting brick-and-mortar wagers.

To address concerns about underage gambling, this bill includes policies specific to only college sports betting. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the bill calls for sportsbooks to use a separate accounting method for transactions on college football, so that all the proceeds can be directed to the Opportunity Grant Fund, which "provides financial aid to in-need student residents who are pursuing post-secondary education."

Why Nebraska Changed Their Stance on College Football Betting

Initially, the Nebraska sports betting bill only allowed betting on college competitions outside of the state. The belief it that it would mitigate exposure to underage gambling. But their stance changed largely thanks to a strong counter-argument from Democratic State Sen. Eliot Bostar.

"We’re talking about gambling on the same team, the same players, doing the same activities,” Bostar told the Lincoln Journal Star. “Treating it differently simply based on the geography of where the competitions are taking place doesn’t seem like good policy.”

Bostar also pointed out that Nebraskans are already wagering on in-state college sporting events. Not only can residents travel to one of the neighboring states with legal college sports betting to place wagers, but there are plenty of reputable sites that will allow Nebraskans to set up and service a gambling account, including many of the linemakers from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks.

Incidentally, this is the same argument being used to push for online sports betting in Nebraska. If it's already happening, why shouldn't the state get a piece of that business, too? Especially when online betting is now the most common form of wagering? 

Perhaps college football betting in Nebraska opens the door for legal online betting in Nebraska sometime down the road. But the latter is an issue that will most likely be tackled once the Cornhusker State officially launches legal sports betting. And for all the talk about changes to the Nebraska sports betting bill, there's still no confirmed date for its rollout. That means any hope of Nebraska online sports betting will be shelved until 2024—at the absolute earliest.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find the one that 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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