Nebraska is a state with a lengthy sports tradition, especially when it comes to college football. The Nebraska Cornhuskers are one of the winningest teams in college football history, with five national championships.
However, unlike many other states, Nebraska lawmakers largely resisted the push to consider legislation making sports betting legal, even as more and more states moved in that direction including its neighbors Iowa and South Dakota.
It wasn’t until 2020 after voters gave the OK to a larger gambling expansion that lawmakers flirted with the idea. In early 2021, Nebraska finally got over the hill and expanded commercial gambling, including bringing sportsbooks to the state. But online sports betting in Nebraska is not part of the deal. However, the addition of in-person (retail) sportsbooks is dependent on the creation of racinos at the state’s racetracks.
Is sports betting legal in Nebraska?
Yes. NE sports betting became legal in 2021 after Gov. Pete Ricketts signed LB 561 into law in June, but no Nebraska sportsbooks are up and running yet. The bill only allows retail sports betting and strictly prohibits mobile wagering.
Does Nebraska have legal online sportsbooks?
No, Nebraska strictly prohibits online sports betting. In fact, most traditional forms of online gambling in Nebraska are forbidden. If customers want to place mobile sports bets, they will have to travel southwest into Colorado or east into Iowa. Both Colorado online sportsbooks and Iowa sportsbook apps include popular brands like DraftKings, FanDuel and PointsBet.
When will Nebraska sports betting launch?
Late 2021 or early 2022. As mentioned, only retail sports betting will be available in Nebraska. As such, the launch is dependent on two factors: the rules and regulations finalized by the newly formed gaming commission and the construction of casinos at the six existing racetracks.
Which Nebraska sports betting sites could launch?
For now, no online sportsbooks will launch in Nebraska, as online sports betting remains illegal in the state. But for the sake of curiosity, we are going to hypothesize on a few legal options that might be available should the time come when that rule is no longer in effect. In fact, there are a number of sportsbooks that could pop up in the state, either by virtue of existing market access deals, tendencies for early launches, or current relationships in Nebraska and neighboring states. Hypothetically, online sportsbooks that could emerge in Nebraska include the following:
- FanDuel Sportsbook: Live in almost every US jurisdiction where sports betting is legal, FanDuel is one of the most prominent sports betting sites operating today. FanDuel also is live in neighboring Colorado and Iowa.
- DraftKings Sportsbook: Another notable sportsbook in Colorado and Iowa, DraftKings is one of the most popular sports betting companies in the US. It is usually one of the first to market and has a multitude of access deals in place.
- Caesars Sportsbook: Thanks to its acquisition of William Hill, Caesars has a ton of experience and it now also has a deal to build a casino at Columbus Exposition & Racing. So, if Nebraska moves forward on online betting, you can be sure to see the Caesars Sportsbook app.
Where can I place legal sports bets in Nebraska?
Eventually, when retail sports betting launches, customers will be able to place bets at the state’s six horse racing tracks.
- Atokad Park — 1542 Atokad Drive, South Sioux City, NE
- Columbus Exposition & Racing — 822 15th St., Columbus, NE
- Fairplay Park — 947 S. Baltimore Ave., Hastings, NE
- Fonner Park — 700 E. Stolley Park Road, Grand Island, NE
- Horsemen’s Park — 6303 Q St., Omaha, NE
- Lincoln Race Course — 7055 S. First St., Lincoln, NE
Now that racetracks have the green light to get casino add-ons built, all are already getting ready and securing deals:
- WarHorse Gaming and three tracks — Lincoln, Horsemen’s Park and Atokad Downs — formed a partnership, with WarHorse set to operate their casinos.
- Columbus Exposition & Racing chose Harrah’s (owned by Caesars Entertainment) as its casino partner to build a brand new $75 million, 40,000-square-foot casino complex.
- Fonner Park partnered with Elite Casino Resorts to develop Grand Island Casino Resort at Fonner Park.
Fairplay Park is the last remaining racetrack in Nebraska that has yet to choose a casino partner. However, the historic park has submitted three proposals to the Adams County Agricultural Society. Additionally, a company named Prospect Enterprises wants to build a horse track as an “in” to pursue casino gambling.
Sports gambling in Nebraska also likely will be available at Native American casinos, pending new tribal compacts. We cannot be certain whether the tribes will pursue retail sportsbooks on site, but judging by what other states have done, it is highly likely. However, the tribes do not fall under the jurisdiction of the state gambling commission and thus are free to make their own rules and laws. The five tribal casinos are as follows:
- Iron Horse Bar & Casino
- Native Star Casino
- Lucky 77 Casino
- Ohiya Casino & Resort
- Rosebud Casino
FAQ on Nebraska sports betting
Who oversees Nebraska sports betting?
The newly formed Nebraska State Racing & Gaming Commission will regulate legal Nebraska sports betting. Laws to govern and regulate NE sports wagering are still under development.
How old do you have to be to bet on sports in Nebraska?
21. At least that’s the anticipated age. The state commission is busy creating rules and regulations to govern sports betting, one of which will be establishing a statewide sports betting age. In most other jurisdictions where sports betting is legal, the betting age is 21 or older, though a few have it set at 18.
Can you bet on college sports in Nebraska?
Yes. Once sportsbooks open in the state, bets on out-of-state college teams or games will be legal. However, you won’t be able to bet on in-state college teams or any games that involve those teams.
Can you play daily fantasy sports contests in Nebraska?
Yes. Legally speaking, Nebraska neither forbids nor authorizes daily fantasy sports, which puts the state in the same position as many others. DFS sites like DraftKings DFS, FanDuel DFS and others accept players from Nebraska, albeit in a legal gray area.
The state has not weighed in one way or the other as far as daily fantasy sports are concerned, and all signs indicate that it doesn’t intend to. A state Senate bill would classify fantasy sports as a skill-based game and thus not subject to the prohibitions outlined in Nebraska’s current gambling law, but that bill has yet to gain significant support.
Popular sports to bet on in Nebraska
Once retail sports betting begins, residents and guests to Nebraska will have the ability to bet on a number of traditional sports, most of which are common in the US market.
The above sports are collectively the four pillars of major league sports (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL). In addition to these, customers will most certainly be able to place bets on other sports, including:
- College sports
Betting on Nebraska sports teams
Nebraska does not have any professional sports teams of any kind. However, it does have one of the most distinguished college football programs in the country, the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. On the basketball side of things, Nebraska is home to Creighton University, a team that regularly appears in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Lastly, the city of Omaha is home to the NCAA Men’s College World Series. Each year, the tournament plays host to the best eight teams in college baseball from around the US. Unfortunately, anyone looking to bet on the Cornhuskers or any in-state schools, while in Nebraska, is out of luck. Nebraska prohibits betting on in-state college teams.
Once retail sportsbooks are up and running, customers will be able to place the following bets:
- Moneylines: The most basic type of sports bet. A bet on which team will win the game.
- Point spreads: Bets that take the margin of victory into account.
- Totals: Commonly known as over/unders. Wager on the combined score of the game.
- Futures: Bet on season-ending results and awards.
- Propositions: Commonly known as prop bets. Wager on events separate from the overall outcome of the game.
- Parlays: Combine more than one bet. You select multiple spreads, moneylines, or whatever other type of wager you want. Although payouts can be high, if you get any individual selection wrong, you lose the entire bet.
History of sports betting in Nebraska
The history of sports betting in Nebraska is a short tale, and most of it has already been explained on this page. Suffice it to say, 2020 and 2021 were the years that changed things for the state.
In 2020, Sen. Justin Wayne introduced LB 990, a bill that featured sports betting as a game of chance. Unfortunately, the bill failed to gain any traction and died that same year. But just as things seemed bleak in the state, the question of sports betting was put to the voters in November 2020. Voters gave their approval to a larger gambling expansion in the state, which included the addition of retail sportsbooks.
The following year, Sen. Tom Briese introduced LB 561. Briese’s bill created the Nebraska State Racing & Gaming Commission, legalized the construction of casinos at the state’s six horse racing tracks, and legalized sports betting. Gov. Ricketts signed the bill with the hope that sports betting can begin in late 2021. At this point, however, the process is stalling and the wait could go into 2022.