Tribes Already Prepping for Eventual Legalization of Nebraska Online Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 12, 2024 12:00 AM
Though we still don't know when—or if—Nebraska online sports betting will be legalized, tribes are already preparing for its launch.

Nebraska sports betting went live roughly a half-year ago. Notably, as part of its legalization, the state did not allow online sportsbooks from the United States to enter the market. Only in-person wagering is currently permitted. But tribal casinos are already preparing Nebraska online sports betting to enter the mix.

Of course, this preparation could be naught. At the very least, they could be waaaay ahead of the game. After all, sports betting in Nebraska has historically moved at a snail’s pace. Just look back at the rollout process itself. The Cornhusker State legalized sports betting all the way back in 2021. They ended up not launching operations until November 2023. It could be years before the landscape changes again. 

Still, tribal operators setting themselves up to offer Nebraska online sports betting in the future is a fairly significant development. It suggests, at the bare minimum, that they expect the state’s gaming laws to shift. 

Casinos Have Struck Tentative Partnerships to Facilitate Potential Launch Nebraska Online Sports Betting

So, how exactly  have casinos in Nebraska prepared themselves to bring online sports betting to the Cornhusker State if and when it’s approved? By striking deals with operators of online betting sites in the United States. Here’s more information from the folks over at Point Spreads:

Morgan and the Winnebago Tribe have already made tentative deals with sportsbook operators if online sports betting is approved. FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM are who they have reached out to and have deals in place. But it’s going to be a bit of a long process for those online gambling sites to be allowed in the state. In the meantime, Nebraska residents will drive to one of the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in the state. Others will head to the nearest state where online sports betting is legal and make bets in their car, once they cross the border.”

The terms of these partnerships have yet to be released in full. To be honest, they probably aren’t even entirely hashed out. Those talks likely took place earlier this year, when casinos were fueling the push for Nebraska online sports betting to be legalized in 2024. However, while their attempt didn’t quite fall on deaf ears, it did fail. The top sportsbooks in the United States ultimately declined to fund a last-minute petition strategy that could have put a Nebraska online sports betting initiative onto the November 2024 ballot.

And yet, the fact tribes held those discussions at all is telltale. It shows that they know Nebraskans are interested in online sports betting services.

Interest in Mobile Sports Betting Appears to be on the Rise Throughout the Cornhusker State

Casino operators in Nebraska could be acting on a hunch after looking at sports betting trends in the United States. The vast majority of legal sports bets placed in the USA are processed through a mobile wagering site. In fact, throughout certain markets, over 95 percent of sports betting takes place via online sportsbooks. That’s above the national average, but it’s not by much. If we had to guess, the 2024 calendar year will see the average share of sports betting that takes place online rise past 90 percent.

It doesn’t take a decorated detective to read between those lines. If your market has already legalized sports on-site  betting, there’s a strong chance, if not an inevitability, that they’ll incorporate legal online sports betting at some point

In the case of Nebraska online sports betting, though, casino operators are actually acting on concrete data. As the folks over at Point Spreads noted:

“Despite Nebraska sports betting being restricted to in-person bets, there are plenty of Nebraska residents with online sports betting accounts. GeoComply Solutions said it located 64,000 sports betting accounts in the state. The majority of those are in Iowa, where online sports betting is legal. The company said it did more than 2.8 million geolocation checks between Jan. 1 and Oct. 30, on devices located in Nebraska accessing legal mobile sportsbooks in other states. Those located in the state of Nebraska were prohibited from betting.”

That 64,000-account number is pretty big. Granted, it could be misleading. Certain Nebraskas could have multiple online sports betting accounts. But even when accounting for redundancies, we’re still talking about tens of thousands of Nebraskans attempting to bet on sports online. 

Is There a Timeline for the Legalization of Online Sports Betting in Nebraska?

Another thing to consider: Geotracking data cannot completely account for interest in Nebraska online sports betting. Those results are only looking at people with online credentials. It doesn’t capture the number of residents who travel to bet on sports in Iowa, Kansas and Colorado because it’s more convenient to leave the state than drive to one of Nebraska’s brick-and-mortar establishments.

With interest in online sports betting this high, it raises the question: When will policymakers start to more seriously consider the legalization of Nebraska online sports betting?

Offering a concrete timeline doesn’t make any sense. Interest in Nebraska mobile sports betting currently seems to be driven by residents and casino operators. We have yet to see many lawmakers seriously push for new laws.

Perhaps that changes after Nebraska retail sports betting is a full year removed from launching. Or maybe it takes a couple of years. 

Proponents of online sports betting in Nebraska no doubt won’t love this ambiguity. But there is a silver lining for those who count themselves among that bunch: The groundwork for mobile betting in Nebraska is being laid, both by casino operators and prospective customers. This leads us to believe it’s only a matter of time before the Cornhusker State adds mobile betting sites to their gaming portfolio.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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