With Valentine’s Day 2024 approaching, online gambling companies are putting out a feeler to gauge the reactions of Nebraskans whom they would like to build relationships with. The response they get could be all about their approach.
In cooperation with the operator of two physical racinos (horse racetracks that also offer casino games like slots) in Nebraska, four of the biggest online gambling companies in the United States are polling Nebraska residents to ascertain their attitude toward potential legal online sports betting in their state. The odds of the coalition getting rejected seem slim.
Gambling coalition propositions Nebraska voters with a poll
According to a news article by Andrew Wegley of the Lincoln Journal Star, the coalition involves four operators of online sportsbooks that some Nebraskans are probably already familiar with. They are:
Those companies offer legal online sports betting in states that border Nebraska like Iowa and Kansas. Joining them in this effort is Ho-Chunk, the parent company of WarHorse Gaming. WarHorse Gaming operates racinos in both Lincoln and Omaha.
People are currently conducting a poll of Nebraska residents to evaluate their interest in potential legal online sports betting. At this time, Nebraska law only allows for in-person wagering at racinos like WarHorse Gaming’s.
Although Wegley reports that the poll will wrap up this week, many details of the survey are unclear. If this poll follows a normal trajectory, however, the results will create a narrative that Nebraskans are already forlorn when it comes to online sports betting.
Expect an overwhelmingly positive attitude toward online sports betting
Given the backers of this poll, the result of the survey is essentially a given. At this time, there is no public information about the exact questions that the poll contains. Additionally, the coalition has shared no information about who they are targeting in the survey.
Such details matter because they can greatly influence the result of this type of polling. These companies are adept at wording questions to produce a desired response. Moreover, how they report the final data can shape a narrative.
It will be quite surprising if this coalition announces anything but something similar to “Nebraskans want online sports betting and they want it bad” as a result of their polling. Another reason why is that if things go south for them despite their attempts to engineer the results, they can simply not announce anything.
No news is better than bad news for the involved gambling companies in this regard. As Wegley points out, though, a public opinion poll is not a law. Affecting a change in Nebraska in this regard could take a lot more effort.
Online gambling poll might be a precursor to more action in Nebraska
Nebraska is one of several US states in which the state’s constitution explicitly details what kinds of gambling are legal. Thus, expanding that definition requires changing that document. Wegley says that there are two paths to that end in Nebraska.
The state’s unicameral legislature can propose an amendment and then deliver that proposal to the state’s voters for them to either ratify or reject. Alternatively, citizens can gather signatures for a petition that places an amendment proposal on the ballot.
If Nebraskans are to vote on legalizing online sports betting in 2024, the proposed amendment will probably have to come via the second route. The state legislature’s deadline for proposing amendments to the constitution has already passed for the year.
This poll might serve the purpose of gauging whether a petition drive in Nebraska would be worth the investment. To qualify for the ballot, such petitions need at least 122,000 signatures from registered voters in the state. Additionally, those signatures must represent at least 5% of voters in no fewer than 38 counties.
To make the November 2024 ballot, proponents would have to get all those signatures verified by July 2024. Doing so in that amount of time could cost millions of dollars and necessitate even more spending to encourage voters to support the amendment.
The poll is akin to having a friend test out the waters with a romantic interest to escape the embarrassment of being rejected directly. If it doesn’t lead to a petition drive in 2024, it could become material for the gambling companies to use in overtures to Nebraska legislators in future years.