The people of Nebraska have been waiting — and waiting — for legal sports betting to roll out. Waiting not on a bill to pass (that's already happened), but on the state to actually build the infrastructure to accept bets. Welp, it's starting to feel like Nebraskans will have to continue to wait for a long, long time until betting ever launches. Here's everything we know about the hold-up.
Sports Betting Has Been "Legal" In Nebraska Since 2021
Last May — about a year ago now — Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts signed bill LB 561 into law, and with that, sports betting became legal inside the Cornhusker State. The bill was spurred the year before that when state voters overwhelmingly approved three new initiatives to allow gaming expansion for the state’s six-licensed horse racetracks in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Columbus, and South Sioux City.
However, LB 561 was limited in its sports betting scope. It legalized wagering strictly in-person at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. Online sports betting was not included in the bill, therefore, it remained barred — much to the chagrin of industry leaders that are mostly mobile-based platforms.
Why The Hold-Up In Nebraska?
What's stopping Nebraska from launching legal sports betting state-wide is, you ask? Welp, that's because the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission has yet to approve the casinos and race tracks that'll have exclusive betting privileges. But the commission shouldn't shoulder all the blame; the "racinos" deserve some of it too.
You see, most state casinos and horse racetracks don't even have the space to build out a full-fledged sportsbook. Take the WarHorse Casino in Lincoln. They're building an entirely new complex, which will include a dedicated area for sports gambling, but the facility won't be finished for several more months. Racetracks, meanwhile, are looking into setting up temporary sports betting spots because they're so crunched for space elsewhere.
Even once space is created, and a license is granted, these same establishments will next need to decide how they'll take sports bets. Do they create their own sportsbook or partner with an established operator? That's a dicey question with millions riding on the decision. All in all, it turns out setting up an entirely new industry is sort of hard.
Is there at least an ETA for sports betting inside the Cornhusker State? Welp, if you ask the newspaper Lincoln Journal Star about it, it could be as far as 2024 until legal betting begins. That's only a guesstimate, but nonetheless, you can tell they're not overly optimistic — and how could you be? It's been a year since the bill passed, and almost zero progress has been made since then.
Betting on Collegiate Sports Prohibited in Cornhusker State
Nebraska may not have a professional sports team, but it has the Cornhuskers. The University of Nebraska collegiate team has come to symbolize the state with its aptly-named Cornhuskers moniker and decorated history in college football. However, if the state ever goes live with sports betting, the Huskies will not be bet-able.
You see, the original LB 561 bill was met with plenty of opposition at first. There was no guarantee it would get the two-thirds majority vote in order to pass. In order to "soften the blow" per se and help the bill clear a vote, an amendment was added that banned in-state collegiate sports betting. Outside of the Huskies, it also affects Creighton University, which has put together a respectable men's basketball program as of late.
Offshore Sportsbooks Provide Popular Alternative For Nebraska Bettors
Nebraska bettors, we don't blame you if you can't wait until the state and racinos get this figured out — which feels like years away still. However, you should know that you have other options for wagering.
The first is a completely legal way to bet on sports in the USA, and that's by crossing state borders into a place that does have it available. Thankfully, Nebraska is surrounded by a slew of states that offer full-blown wagering. As a matter of fact, only Minnesota among the Big Ten states does NOT take in sports bets. Iowa and Colorado are likely the best alternative options since both allow for mobile wagers, so you can bet immediately upon crossing the state border.
If you don't want to drive — and we don't blame you with current gas prices — then sports bettors in the Cornhusker State can resort to long-established offshore sportsbooks that are on the Internet. These bookies carry the full gamut of sports betting and carry no ridiculous rules barring bets on the Cornhuskers. Check out the table below to see your offshore options. Read our unbiased sportsbook reviews if you need help picking one site over another.
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