Last week Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed a gaming expansion bill into law, making retail sports betting legal in the state.
Ricketts signed LB 561 into law a few days after the state’s unicameral legislature approved the bill by a vote of 44-3. The bill allows the state’s horse racing tracks to open retail sportsbooks and take sports bets. However, the final iteration of the document did not include online sports betting. And will only allow in-person sports betting inside brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.
Horse racing tracks can now offer “Las Vegas style” gaming, which Ricketts has opposed in the past. Last year, he wrote a column warning of the social and financial aspects of casino gambling. All while praising the state’s position to remain casino free.
The Nebraska legislature adopted an amendment to the bill earlier this month. To ban sports betting on in-state collegiate programs in hopes of making the needed two-thirds majority vote more palatable. The in-state collegiate sports betting ban will prevent people from betting on the popular Nebraska University football program and Creighton University basketball.
“When Nebraska voters overwhelmingly approved the ballot proposals in November. They provided the legislature with a mandate,” bill sponsor Sen. Tom Briese said in a statement. “That mandate is they want casinos at racetracks, and the property tax relief they will provide. In doing so, they approved all games of chance, including sports betting and other such games, as a matter of law.
“I introduced LB 561 to clarify what the voters approved, and provide some parameters. That are both consistent with what the voters mandated and consistent with Nebraska values.”