Governor Pete Ricketts has signed a new gaming expansion bill that will allow the state’s horse tracks to open retail sports betting outlets and offer ‘Las Vegas style’ gaming. The new bill excludes mobile sports betting and only allows for wagering in a bricks and mortar licensed sportsbook.
LB 561 was recently approved by the state legislature by a vote of 44-3 with Gov. Ricketts moving quickly to sign the bill into law despite his previous misgivings over casino gaming. In August 2020, Gov. Ricketts wrote a column warning against the social and financial dangers of gambling and praised the state’s efforts to keep Nebraska free of gambling activity.
However, following the landslide approval by the state’s elected representatives and increasing public support for a regulated betting market, Ricketts has since accepted the fact that Nebraska wants multiple gambling options.
In November 2020, voters approved three initiatives allowing for gaming expansion at the state’s six licensed racetracks. This included a change to the state constitution that would allow slot machines and table games to be installed at the tracks. Although the original bill failed to specifically mention sports betting, lawmakers have since determined that the language can encompass retail sports betting outlets.
As a result, the bill will allow betting on all sports both professional and collegiate with the exception of matches involving in-state colleges. The exception was added to the bill after some representatives intimated that they would only approve the bill if such an amendment was put into place.
Image credit: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0