With No Infrastructure, Nebraska Sports Betting is a Losing Bet

Nebraska Sports Betting Losing Bet

Nebraska sports bettors eagerly await the day that they can physically place a sports wager in the state. Following the legalization of sports betting in Nebraska, many residents believed it would be a short wait. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

In a classic example of putting the cart before the horse, sports betting is legal in Nebraska but there isn’t an infrastructure in place to accept wagers.

Making matters worse, the sports betting landscape is murky, at best, for 2023. It’s unclear as to when residents of the Cornhusker State can actually make in-person sports bets and where.

Additionally, lawmakers haven’t even passed online gambling in Nebraska, which has prevented operators from setting up shop in the state and taking sports bets.

Nebraska Sports Betting Laws

The law is clear regarding sports betting in Nebraska. It’s completely legal to wager on sports in the state. Nebraska Governor, Pete Ricketts, signed the sports betting bill two years ago, when he approved LB561 on May 25, 20211.

The Nebraska sports betting bill legalized enforcement of sports wagering and gambling activities at licensed racetracks in the state2. However, sports bettors in Nebraska are still waiting for the opportunity to put the law into action.

The sports betting bill was introduced in January of 2021, and only four months later, sports betting was legal. The bill flew past the House and Senate before Ricketts gave the green light.

LB561 Nebraska Sports Betting Bill For Retail Sports Betting

LB561 only included language for retail sports betting and provisions for in-person wagering, not online wagering3. Coming from a state that didn’t have a casino that could support sports betting, they dropped the ball in this respect.

It’s comical that the bill had language that addressed non-existent casino infrastructure in Nebraska. The vast majority of states going through the sports betting process have it the other way around.

If online sports betting was included in the bill, private operators would’ve had a product for Nebraska two years ago. DraftKings, Fanduel, Caesars, MGM, and others, almost certainly would have provided their online betting infrastructure as they’ve done in many other states.

Where Is The Sports Betting Infrastructure In Nebraska?

According to Tom Sage, director of the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission, the biggest reason for the long wait is that Nebraska law requires bets to be made at an in-person sportsbook.

“We could have had sports wagering rules already, but we would have had no place to have sports wagering”, stated Sage4

Nebraska is in the process of approving rules and policies for sports betting at casinos. However, further complicating the process is another legal battle. Currently, there’s an ongoing debate over permitting wagers on in-state collegiate athletics.

Former Nebraska Cornhuskers head football coach, Tom Osborne, is one of the largest opponents to LB168. If approved, the bill will allow wagering on Cornhuskers games and other collegiate games taking place in Nebraska5.

Even if rule-making was rubber-stamped by the state, there isn’t a retail sportsbook or casino that is currently approved to accept sports bets.

WarHorse Casino Expected To Be A Game-Changer

This is all expected to change when Lincoln’s WarHorse Casino has a finished product in September6. The casino is slated to be the most robust and state-of-the-art gambling property in Nebraska when it opens.

There are also plans for a WarHorse Casino in Omaha at Horsemen’s Park. The property in Omaha is scheduled to have a grand opening in 2024, with a temporary site expected this year7.

There is currently a temporary casino in Lincoln. But it does not offer sports betting, nor does it have table games. It’s essentially a slot room with 433 machines8.

Will There Be Sports Betting In Nebraska In 2023?

With the construction of WarHorse Casinos progressing in Lincoln and Omaha, there’s a small chance that the Cornhusker State will see in-person sports betting taking place in 2023.

At the time of completion, the WarHorse Casino in Omaha is expected to cost $220 million. Plans for the property include 1,200 slot machines, 20 table games, horse racing, multiple restaurants, and most importantly, a sportsbook9.

Further pointing to the mess that Nebraska finds itself in, is the fact that even if lawmakers allowed temporary casinos to take sports bets in 2023, there are no rules set by the state for sportsbook operators.

Where Can Nebraska Residents Bet On Sports?

Nebraska is surrounded by states with legal sports betting and is losing millions of dollars each month to nearby places like Colorado, Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas. As Nebraska struggles to cross the finish line and launch their sports betting industry, other states are benefiting from their taxpayers.

Another option for sports betting in Nebraska, is through safe online sportsbooks not located within the state. These online operators offer welcome bonuses to first time users and alleviate the frustrations stemming from waiting for Nebraska to get its infrastructure in place.

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1 Nebraska Legislature – Legislative Document. Retrieved From “https://nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_bill.php?DocumentID=44291

2 Nebraska Legislature – Legislative Document. Retrieved From “https://nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_bill.php?DocumentID=44291

3 U.S. sports betting; Here’s where all 50 states stand on legalizing sports gambling, site mobile bets. Retrieved From “https://www.cbssports.com/general/news/u-s-sports-betting-heres-where-all-50-states-stand-on-legalizing-sports-gambling-site-mobile-bets/”

4 Will there be sports wagering in Nebraska anytime soon? Don’t bet on it. Retrieved From “https://journalstar.com/business/local/will-there-be-sports-wagering-in-nebraska-anytime-soon-dont-bet-on-it/article_773ddf74-f434-501d-802e-64c003b31302.html

5 Gambling opponents including Tom Osborne take issue with betting on Nebraska home games. Retrieved from “https://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/gambling-opponents-including-tom-osborne-take-issue-with-betting-on-nebraska-home-games/article_fb5c187a-5ad5-5b23-b54c-9e69be6e60f7.html

6 WarHorse Casino Lincoln opens Sep. 2023 | Temp open now! Retrieved From “https://www.500nations.com/casinos/ne-lincoln-casino.asp

7 WarHorse Omaha Casino Expected to Open in 2024. Retrieved From

8 Will there be sports wagering in Nebrask anytime soon? Don’t bet on it. Retrieved From

9 WarHorse Omaha Casino Expected to Open in 2024. Retrieved From

About the Author
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Rick Rockwell
Sports/Casino Writer
Blog and News
Rick has been a professional writer for over 14 years with an extensive resume spanning projects and clients from around the world. But, his passions have always been sports and sports betting. Whether it’s being a credentialed media member to major sporting events, climbing into a racecar or a pro wrestling ring, Rick’s sports and sports betting knowledge, passion and versatility is on display with each article he writes for TSG.

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