Nebraska lawmakers advance rules for casinos, sports betting

Posted at 6:05 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 19:05:14-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — After voter approval last year, we know that places like Horseman’s Park in Omaha will soon have casino gambling.

We don’t know exactly how the state is going to regulate it. Specifically, whether sports betting is going to be allowed at all.

Every state senator knows that it’s their job to regulate casino gambling. But debate grew divisive about whether sports gambling would be allowed, and what exactly the words “all games of chance,” which the voters approved, means.

“All means all,” says Sen. Justin Wayne.

Wayne argued that voters approved all games of chance, including sports betting. And that if they don’t regulate it at all, people would be allowed to bet on individual performances from Nebraska and Creighton athletes.

The bill would only allow for gamblers to place wagers on the games themselves.

“It isn’t about whether you like sports betting at this point or not. That ship has sailed. It’s a game of chance, it’s out of the barn. It’s about whether you want regulations around it to limit it in any capacity,” says Wayne.

Even some conservative senators, who don’t like gambling at all, felt compelled to vote for it, saying it’s the will of the people.

“I don’t like gambling, I voted against it this fall,” says Sen. Lou Ann Linehan. “But we lost, we lost big.”

But opponents pointed to the words of Lance Morgan, who is CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., and one of the people pushing the gambling petition.

3 News Now reported him saying in July that sports gaming was not included in the petition.

“If they say it was not part of the casino gambling aspect of it, I guess I don’t understand why we would just arbitrarily decide to put it in the bill,” says Sen. Joni Albrecht.

Ultimately the legislature approved including sports gaming, as well as expanding keno gaming, allowing use of phone apps to play keno.

The entire gambling package will still need approval two more times from the Unicameral, plus, overcome a possible veto from Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Both sides seemed to agree that if sports gambling is approved, it could ultimately be up to the courts to decide if games of chance allows for the legalization of sports betting.