Lawmakers in Nebraska have been working on legalizing sports betting for months, and that bill is now headed to the next step. LB 561 was approved by a vote of 44-3, and it will now head to the desk of Governor Pete Ricketts.
This bill focuses on more than just sports betting as it is a comprehensive gaming expansion package. The only thing that is not included in this bill is online sports betting, and that is a massive blow to the sports bettors in the state.
Last November, voters in the state of Nebraska approved casino gaming at the racetracks that are up and running in the state. Lawmakers took that opportunity to add sports betting to the bill, but all betting must be done at the racetracks as well.
Both casino and sports betting revenue will both be taxed at a rate of 20%. There is hope that the state can bring in more than $240 million in annual revenue by this gaming expansion package.
The Nebraska State Racing and Gaming Commission will also be created when this bill is officially a law, and it will work to oversee casino and sports betting gaming.
Ricketts Makes Final Decision
Governor Ricketts will now be asked to sign off on LB 561, and there was some initial concern that he would veto the bill. Ricketts has been a vocal opponent of any casino gaming expansion, but it is clear that this is something that the residents want.
Lawmakers now expect Ricketts to sign the bill as it is currently written, or he would face some serious backlash from his voters. This decision has to be made by June 2 but will likely be done by the end of May.
No Betting on Cornhuskers
The most popular team in the state of Nebraska is the Cornhuskers football team, and there won’t be any action taken on these games. There was an amendment added on May 13 that prohibits all betting opportunities on in-state college teams.
This is a similar stance that has been taken in other states, but it does several effects on the overall sports betting handle and revenue numbers. Without any major professional teams in Nebraska, the University of Nebraska would have easily been the biggest draw.
Plenty of Competition
Even though Nebraska is looking for some financial relief with the legalization of sports betting, there are factors in play that will limit growth. The lack of online sports betting is the biggest blow, but the location of Nebraska will hurt as well.
Iowa and Colorado are two border states to Nebraska, and both of them have built up successful sports betting industries. Each state has online sports betting available, and that will allow Nebraska residents to travel to those states to make wagers.
Wyoming and South Dakota have also legalized sports betting as well, but these are not large markets. Eventually, legalizing online betting will help Nebraska become competitive with Iowa and Colorado.