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Nebraska Sports Betting Legislation Heads To Governor's Desk

The Bill Overwhelmingly Passed Through The Legislature And Only Needs A Signature From Gov. Pete Ricketts To Become Law


The only thing that stands between Nebraska and legalized sports betting is the signature of Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Late last week, the legislature overwhelmingly passed LB 561 by a 44-3 margin. Unlike most state legislatures, the Cornhusker State has a unicameral legislature, meaning the proposal will not have to pass through a second chamber.

Instead, the bill heads straight to governor’s desk where it will become law with either a signature or through inaction.

Ricketts has been an outspoken critic of gambling expansion in the state, but with the popularity of the subject among both the citizens and lawmakers, it’s likely that he will take the inaction route. If the bill isn’t signed or vetoed within a week, it will become law. Several anti-gambling governors have taken this route when public sentiment opposes their personal views.

The legislation would legalize sports betting at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. Online betting was originally in the bill, but according to several media outlets, it was removed from the proposal during a debate on the floor.

Bettors would be allowed to wager on both professional and collegiate sports with an exception for in-state college athletic events. Those games will not be permitted to place bets on as the legislature added an amendment to the state constitution earlier this month which banned betting on in-state amateur sports.

Last November, Nebraska citizens voted to allow for casino gambling in their state. The ballot initiative simply allowed for “games of chance” and didn’t specify that sports betting would be legalized. This legislation would remove any ambiguity and allow for betting at those casinos when they launch later this year.

The legislation passed with an emergency clause attached to it, meaning that as soon as it becomes law, regulators can begin creating rules and a framework for the market immediately. The clause makes it highly likely that sports betting could happen when casinos launch.