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Gov Ricketts Signs Nebraska Sports Betting Bill LB 561 Into Law

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Nebraska has taken a step forward in the gambling scene, with Governor Pete Ricketts signing sports betting into law. Approving the legislation on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 after the gaming expansion bill LB 561 passed the unicameral legislature’s final vote with a 44-3 outcome on May 20, it marked quite the turnaround in opinion for Ricketts.

He has previously expressed a negative opinion on gambling and real money gaming of any kind. Those thoughts were voiced as recently as August 2020, when he said that gambling “can ruin families, hurt communities, and pile on new costs to the state.” It is for these reasons that he has kept Nebraska casino-free until now, claiming that research shows the state is the fourth-least gambling-addicted in the U.S.

However, following the final vote of the legislature on LB 561, which includes sports betting within the state, the governor’s signature was not in doubt by anyone. The main point about the bill is that Nebraska won’t be getting online sports betting of any kind though. It simply legalizes the activity in-person at retail outlets.

Nebraska Legalizes Sports Betting

What's Included in the Nebraska Sports Betting Bill?

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An amendment to the constitution has been introduced via LB 561, which allows for the expansion of gaming within Nebraska. Back in November last year, residents within the state had the chance to vote on the expansion, which was stated to offer “games of chance” at the six commercial horse racing tracks there. That expansion did not actually outrightly include sports betting.

As it happens, Senator Tom Briese introduced the bill, and it was the state’s politicians who opted to include retail sports betting in the expansion.

The amendment also establishes the State Racing and Gaming Commission, which will create gaming regulations within Nebraska. This commission will also oversee these gaming regulations, including those that pertain to sports betting.

To begin with, bettors within the Cornhusker State will only be able to place wagers within certain areas of land-based casinos. It is thought that this may be ready to go live later in 2021. Whether or not an online sportsbook economy will be set up at a future time remains to be seen.

Sports betting revenue will also be somewhat limited in Nebraska. Lawmakers made certain decisions that will restrict how much revenue from this area can be generated. The legislation dictates a state levy of 20% tax on casino and sports betting revenue, which is a bit higher than the average in other states that have instituted licensed sports betting. Obviously, the fact that sports betting will only be accessible within land-based establishments will limit participation.

Bettors can currently visit neighboring states such as Colorado or Iowa, where sports wagers can be placed from their mobile devices.

Nebraska residents currently also have the option of visiting multiple offshore sports betting platforms as an alternative too. It could therefore be suggested that there is very little incentive for citizens of the state to visit land-based casinos just for sports betting purposes.

One other thing that the amendment restricts is betting on instate college sports. This was done to ensure that the bill would gain enough votes from the legislature to pass. Nebraska does not have any professional sports teams, but it does operate as a fantastic home to major college football culture. Yet, the legislature believed that allowing college sports betting would put too much pressure on the student athletes. This could therefore restrict revenue even more.

Nebraska Limiting Its Own Steps Forward

Nebraska has not had such a friendly relationship with gambling throughout the years. Most forms of gambling are illegal within The Cornhusker State. Charitable gaming is certainly widespread throughout while major forms of lottery gambling can also be accessed.

However, there are no commercial casinos of the state with the only B&M casinos being six tribal venues. It is only thanks to the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that those tribal casinos were able to operate within Nebraska, and the likelihood is that without it, they would not be allowed either. With the gambling expansion recently enacted, though, we can expect racinos to appear, offering a combination of racetrack racing and casino gaming.

It has taken a long time for the retail sports betting option to become legal, and even so, it looks like it will remain as a heavily restricted sector. Therefore, bettors within Nebraska probably shouldn’t look toward a near-future of being able to legally place sports bets online or from a mobile device within Nebraska’s borders.

That being said, there will be some people residing in the state who appreciate the introduction of the gaming expansion. Ricketts putting his signature on LB 561 makes him one of several governors who have signed similar legislation into law in 2021. Others include Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, Governor Mark Gordon of Wyoming and Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota. The main difference is that most of these states include some form of online sports betting as well.

Pete RickettsPete Ricketts, Governor of Nebraska

South Dakota’s legislation is very similar to Nebraska’s though with sports betting only being able to take place at brick-and-mortar properties in Deadwood as well as on tribal reservations. And like Nebraska, the state will be at a disadvantage in comparison to the nearby states of Montana and Iowa.

Offshore Sportsbooks Accessible in Nebraska


While the legal sports betting bill has been signed into law and will allow sports betting to occur within land-based establishments in Nebraska, as noted, it features quite a few restrictions. So if you want to bet on sports without being subject to these inconveniences, then there are various offshore platforms that we can recommend to you. Check out this list of the best internet sportsbooks for Americans.

If poker is really what you're after, then online poker sites catering to Nebraska also provide the gaming action you seek. Or if you reside elsewhere in the country, this USA online poker guide may give you the information you're looking for.