Nebraska

Sports Betting in Nebraska

There was plenty of gambling in Nebraska during the 1800’s and a popular poker variety is named for the city of ‘Omaha’. Unfortunately, most of the state’s gambling glory is in the past. Nebraska became a state in 1867 and instituted a very broad definition of illegal gambling. Even a pinball machine that rewards a replay for high scores would be illegal under this definition.

Parimutuel wagering was legalized in the 1930’s though only on track. There are six race tracks in Nebraska but combined they offer just 58 days of live racing. Charity bingo and raffles were legalized in the 50’s and 1960’s and the Nebraska State Lottery debuted in 1992. The lottery’s game offerings aren’t particularly impressive with a few draw games including networked jackpots Powerball and Mega Million and a small assortment of scratch off instant games.

The first Native American tribal casino opened in Nebraska in 2011. Today, there are four tribal properties offering bingo and Class 2 (‘bingo style’) slot machines. There have been a couple of efforts to expand the state’s gambling menu but none have been successful. Any expansion of gaming meets with strong opposition from horsemen groups and lottery representatives. For the foreseeable future, Nebraska gamblers will be best served by crossing the state line into Iowa. Given this hostile legislative environment it’s hard to see the state becoming an early adopter of sports betting.

Sports Betting in Omaha

There was plenty of gambling in Nebraska during the 1800’s and a popular poker variety is named for the city of ‘Omaha’. Unfortunately, most of the state’s gambling glory is in the past. Nebraska became a state in 1867 and instituted a very broad definition of illegal gambling. Even a pinball machine that rewards a replay for high scores would be illegal under this definition. The good news is that Omaha is right on the border with Iowa which provides it with significantly more options than the rest of the state.

Parimutuel wagering was legalized in the 1930’s though only on track. There are six race tracks in Nebraska but combined they offer just 58 days of live racing. One of these is Omaha’s Horseman’s which offers a minimal number of live racing dates but does have year round simulcast betting. The Nebraska State Lottery debuted in 1992. The lottery’s game offerings aren’t particularly impressive with a few draw games including networked jackpots Powerball and Mega Million and a small assortment of scratch off instant games. Through some strange quirk, keno is legal and offered by a small number of bars in the state.

The first Native American tribal casino opened in Nebraska in 2011. Today, there are four tribal properties offering bingo and Class 2 (‘bingo style’) slot machines. None are closer than two hours from Omaha. There have been a couple of efforts to expand the state’s gambling menu but none have been successful. Any expansion of gaming meets with strong opposition from horsemen groups and lottery representatives. For the foreseeable future, Nebraska gamblers will be best served by crossing the state line into Iowa. Given this hostile legislative environment it’s hard to see the state becoming an early adopter of sports betting.

That means the best plan is to cross the border and the easiest place to do that is Iowa. Council Bluffs, Iowa is less than 15 minutes away and offers several large properties including the Ameristar Casino Hotel, the Horseshoe Council Bluffs and Harrah’s Council Bluffs Hotel and Casino. Kansas City is less than three hours away but given the convenience of being on the Iowa border it’s tough to make a case for making the trip.

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