Unicameral passes budget, advances sports gambling

Posted at 6:28 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 19:28:01-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The legislature has officially passed a budget that is now on Gov. Pete Ricketts' desk.

The budget includes setting aside $100 million for future funding of a prison, and spending $14.9 million to prepare designs of a new prison, and an independent study on the state of the aging State Penitentiary in Lincoln.

After that they renewed debate on gambling regulations, specifically whether sports gambling should be included. Lawmakers ultimately advanced the gambling regulations on second reading.

Senator Mike Flood said the people have spoken.

“The reality is the voters of this state had a chance and they voted overwhelmingly in support of gambling when it comes to gambling at casinos,” said Flood.

They failed to pass an amendment that would not allow Nebraskans to bet on collegiate sports in Nebraska, so you could only bet on the Huskers or Creighton if they’re on the road, outside the state.

“Allowing gambling on Nebraska sporting events will create new unnecessary pressure and risks on student-athletes and coaches in Nebraska,” said Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, who introduced the amendment.

That got pushback from multiple senators, with Sen. Adam Morfeld saying that people are already making these bets and the revenue should go to the state.

“It doesn’t make sense for me to be able to place a bet on a team in Nebraska when they’re in Texas, but not when they’re playing a game in the state,” said Morfeld.

Senators also elected to include electronic keno in the gambling regulations.

One more vote will be made later in the session on the gambling regulations before it goes on the governor’s desk.