Lawmakers breakdown Nebraska Gambling Bill


The Nebraska State Constitution determines the forms of gambling that may be allowed or prohibited in the state.

As of 1934, no form of gambling was permitted in Nebraska.

However, things have changed over the years and today, a few changes in legislation have made certain types of gambling legal.

In a recent referendum, Nebraska residents voted to legalize certain types of casino gambling in the state.

Lawmakers are, therefore, trying to come up with ways to regulate the industry and make good use of the revenue that they may earn.

In a recent public hearing, the Legislature’s General Affairs Committee got into a discussion about it.

The goal was to discuss casino gambling in Nebraska and what it may bring.

Proposals Made

Some of the proposals would prohibit the use of credit cards when gambling in casinos.

There would also be misdemeanor charges against those who cheat in casino games.

Casinos would need to come up with systems to ensure that addicts can bar themselves from playing at their facilities.

This move may help curb the effects of gambling addiction.

Another provision is that sports betting would be allowed inside casinos.

This idea attracted lots of opposition especially for a lawmaker whose district was deemed ineligible to have a casino.

According to him, his community would be facing the effects of casino gambling without reaping any of its benefits.

It would not be earning any revenue.

Overwhelming Support

The constitutional amendment to allow casinos in Nebraska was supported by about two thirds of all voters.

The amendment allows casinos at six of the licensed horse-racing tracks.

Some of the money from these casinos will be dedicated to a tax credit to help property owners in the state.

This campaign garnered lots of support and Ho-Chunk Inc. bankrolled it.

The Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska owns the company and is now striving to open casinos in Omaha, South Sioux City, and Lincoln tracks.

According to the president of this company, the gambling industry is in need of regulations that may clarify matters.

Many of the regulations could not be put on the ballot.

He also feels that Lincoln and Omaha residents will benefit from job opportunities among other benefits offered by the new casinos.

Learn more about Nebraska online gambling at

Set Casino Regulations

Briese introduced the Legislative Bills 560 and 561.

These bills determine the regulations that will govern the commercial gaming industry in the state.

LB560 permits the licensed horse racetracks in the state to introduce table games and slot machines into their facilities.

It also allows on-site sports betting.

This statute forbids the use of credit cards in gambling.

It also requires strict background checks for all the important personnel in gaming operations.

It creates a system where each license can pay enough gaming taxes safely and efficiently.

LB560 also sets clear penalties for gambling-related crimes such as trying to manipulate slot terminals.

Bill 561

The Legislative Bill 561 raises the betting age on pari-mutuel horse race from 19 to 21.

The age limit for betting on table games, slot machines, and wagering on sports is now 19.

It also unites the Nebraska Racing Commission into an agency known as the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission.

The authority will feature seven members, five of whom would be current racing commissioners.

LB561 also allows the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission to come up with new rules relating to casinos and horse racing.

Without the law, all regulatory amendments would need to pass through a complicated process to receive approval from the governor and attorney general of the state.

The Opponents

Even though the new bill may have had lots of support, there were a few opponents as well.

Most of them argued that the society may face the negative effects of gambling which can outweigh its benefits.

Gov. Pete Ricketts was one of them. He argued that the new casinos may increase the cases of gambling addiction in the state.

They may contribute to more bankruptcy cases and crime.

Sen. Tom Briese, the chairman of the General Affairs Committee, felt that lawmakers needed to act fast.

Even though he personally had reservations against gambling, he believed that there needed to be clear casino rules to govern casinos.

Sen. Suzanne Geist proposed a different bill to divert some tax revenue from the Lincoln casino to the group that handles the Lancaster County Super Fair.

However, many counties and cities opposed her idea.

They argued that it would limit their discretion to use the funds for other purposes.

Pointing to the Nebraska State Fair, Geist argued that she was looking for a way to finance the fair without the use of property taxes.

She feels that it may be difficult to designate the money once it goes to the general fund.

Nebraska Tribes Set to Operate Racetrack Casinos

Nebraska currently has four tribal casinos.

They all operate Class II bingo machines.

All of the gaming parlors are in the northeast of the state.

The Winnebago Tribe operates the Iron Horse Bar & Casino and the Native Star Casino.

Its gaming arm, Ho-Chunk Inc., played a big role in bankrolling the referendum campaigns.

The company donated over $6.6 million to ‘Keep the Money in Nebraska.’

It helped raise awareness on the benefits of racetrack casinos in the state.

Ho-Chunk has worked with the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

They control the gaming operations at three separate facilities.

In conclusion, the people of Nebraska welcomed casinos to their state with a significant majority vote.

They agreed to add slot machines and table games as one of the state’s revenue sources.

This is a major step going past the little stakes that it currently permits.

Wagering options that are permitted at the moment include keno, pari-mutuel thoroughbred racing, bingo, and the lottery.

The three pro-casino amendments received support from all parts of the state.

However, the most support was from counties with horse tracks as they are likely to benefit the most.

A lot of the opposition was from small and conservative counties.

What do you think?

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