Nebraska Governor Signs Commerical Gambling Bill Into Law

A commercial casino gambling bill has been signed into law this week in Nebraska. Governor Pete Ricketts signature was all that remained in the way of the bill moving forward. The measure allows retail sports betting at pari-mutuel race tracks as well as casino style gaming at the venues.

Making It Happen

It took quite some time for the gambling bill LB561 to become law. Just a few days ago, the measure was approved by Legislature with a vote of 44 to 3 after a few amendments were added and objections raised. One of the main issues involved the game of keno and creating a level playing field for parlors that offer services. The goal was to see enough funds provided to local communities to benefit citizens of the state.

Another change involved an issue with local teams. Some senators wanted to ban casino sports betting on games that involved teams when competing in Nebraska. The main team being consider was the Husker football program. This change was added as well last minute.

Once all the changes were made, there were only two senators who opposed the measure. The bill had enough support to move forward and receive the signature of the governor this week. It is expected that once the new gambling options are in place, the state will see as much as $445 million in new gambling spending by the 2022-23 fiscal year.

It has been estimated that residents of Nebraska already bet at casinos located in neighboring states like Iowa and spend around $500 million. Opponents feel that the estimates are too high and that the state will not see that type of number in the future.

However, it is true that players travel from the state to other areas to gamble. In Council Bluffs, Iowa, it is not uncommon to see cars with Nebraska license plates taking part in gaming at the local casino. To try and be competitive, WarHorse Gaming will create a large casino in Lincoln, hopefully able to keep residents in the state to gamble.

Additional casino gaming will be launched in Nebraska via tracks located in Hastings, Grand Island, Omaha, Columbus, and South Sioux City. Each of these venues will be adding games as soon as possible to get started bringing in new revenues.

Conservative States Changing Their Stance

Nebraska is one example of conservative states changing its stance on gambling in the United States. Over the past few months, many states have looked at various ways to add in gambling activity to bring in new revenues.

From the lottery, to keno, casinos, and sports betting, there are many options for states to consider. Even Alabama had potential this year to make huge changes to its very conservative gambling industry. However, efforts failed due to lawmakers not fully supporting the ideas brought forth within the Senate and House.

We could see an even larger effort next year as lawmakers in states like Alabama regroup and figure out the best path forward to offer some type of gambling legalization within their borders.

Overall, the conservative stance seems to be wavering a bit as states try to come up with new ways to bring in revenues.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.