While Nebraska has a few exceptional collegiate-level sports teams, they don’t really have a booming sports market, to begin with. It comes as no surprise that sports betting hasn’t been legalized yet in the state, but we could see that change in the near future with the new bill proposed by Senator Justin Wayne in January 2020.
As of May 2021, Nebraska is moving forward with its sports betting bill. The bill LB 561 was signed into law by Governor Pete Rickets, allowing for in-person wagering to take place at licensed gambling venues. Sportsbooks are likely to go live in 2021, but maybe not before the NFL season begins. More to come on this story this year.
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This new bill, LB990 or commonly known as the ‘Games of Skill Act’, will legalize sports betting, fantasy sports, and poker in Nebraska. Currently, sports bettors are flocking to neighboring states like Iowa, and spending their betting dollars there, funding the Iowa economy.
The three Iowa casinos in Council Bluffs (just over the state line) reported over $9 million in sports betting revenue in December alone - revenue which no doubt was contributed to by some Nebraskan citizens.
The state is home to a few tribal casinos, where they have plenty of slots to play but aren’t really recognized as resorts per se. People go to gamble, not stay the night and use the casino as a destination.
When it comes to Daily Fantasy sports, it isn’t legal yet, but if this bill is passed, that would make sites like FanDuel and DraftKings legal.
Can I bet on sports in Nebraska?
We likely won’t see sports betting legal in Nebraska in 2020.
Since the overturn of PASPA in May 2018, states have been considering legalizing sports betting. Since this news, Nebraska lawmakers feared that the revenue generated off sports betting will cost them three times as much in social services. Not to mention, that Nebraska is the only state in the country that has a unicameral legislature, bound by term limits which make passing bills challenging to say the least.
Bill LB990 would need a three-fifths majority, or 30 of 49 votes to pass. Not to mention they have a former sports legend and member of Congress, Tom Osborne opposing the bill. Osborne is the former University of Nebraska football coach who led the Cornhuskers to three national championships and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
And that’s not all, another legend, Heisman trophy winner Johnny Rodgers has voiced his concerns about legalizing sports betting. Needless to say, having these two state-recognized athletes pleading for sports betting to remain illegal will be a huge obstacle for this bill.
So, that just leaves us with online gambling. You can bet on sports online in Nebraska, and it’s totally legal. Their laws around gambling are dated and they can’t regulate online gambling. Online sportsbooks are a great option for bettors in the state of Nebraska so they can get in on all the action without leaving their own homes, let alone the state.
Nebraska Sports Betting Timeline
2018-2020: Possibilities and First Attempts
With the Supreme Court declaring illegal Nevada's monopoly on sports betting, Nebraska was given a beautiful opportunity. It seems like it would end up taking them a few years to even begin considering this golden opportunity.
In 2020, Senator Wayne introduced three bills. these were all slightly different on questions around online betting, its relation to the lottery, or whether it would have been approved only after a voter referendum. None of these bills were able to gain much momentum.
2021: Legalization Finally Happens
Sports betting finally came to Nebraska in 2021. After a voter referendum that was part of a larger gaming expansion, retail locations were permitted to open across the state.
The deal was sealed when the legislature passed a bill in May 2021.
There are four Native American tribal casinos in the state of Nebraska, two of which are owned and operated by the Winnebago Tribe and the others owned by the Omaha Tribe and Santee Sioux Tribe. All four casinos are located on the eastern side of the state, with none close to Omaha.
If sports betting is legalized in Nebraska, these casinos could be locations of future sportsbooks. Since they’re all located on the eastern side of the state, it would be wise to legalize online sports betting so they can offer mobile betting to western cities and towns.
- Iron Horse Bar and Casino in Emerson, Nebraska
- Lucky 77 Casino in Walthill, Nebraska
- Native Star Casino in Winnebago Nebraska
- Ohiya Casino in Niobrara, Nebraska
Betting on Nebraska Sports Teams
There aren’t many teams to bet on in the state, but they have a few notable college teams to look at.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers college football team is monumentally the most popular sports team in the state – packing their 86,000 person stadium every week. Playing in the Big 10, and having 118 years under their belt, they have made a top 25 appearance 48 times and made 53 Bowl game appearances.
The Creighton Bluejays college basketball program has been around for 97 seasons, but haven’t really gained much attention until the 1990s. They have yet to win a championship, and haven’t made it past the third round – but have made enough of an improvement to move from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East.
Top Online Sportsbooks for Betting in Nebraska
There are so many online sportsbooks out there, it’s hard to choose which one to set up an account at. Some sportsbooks are exceptional, and some are downright bad. Luckily, we compiled a list of the top sportsbooks that we personally use at OnlineSportsBetting that can help you make the best decision based on your individual needs.
We identified top criteria that are important when selecting a sportsbook, and we outlined them in our sportsbook reviews.