Unicameral weighing bill legalizing sports gambling

Posted at 7:45 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 20:51:07-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The voters approved it, now lawmakers are figuring out how it will all work.

Casino gambling at some point in the future will be taking place at Nebraska racetracks.

State Sen. Tom Briese of Albion is looking into how casino gaming will be regulated.

His bill outlines what would be legal, what wouldn't be and penalties for breaking the laws.

Most controversially, it includes allowing sports gambling, which Briese believes is a game of chance, not a game of skill, and something the voters approved in November.

“To me, it’s black and white,” says Briese.

Others like Brendan Bussman, a native Nebraskan who now lives in Nevada and serves as a consultant to gaming operations across the globe, agree, saying the players on the field are typically the ones with the skill.

“People tend to bet more with their heart than they do with their mind. That makes it much more chance than sitting there that I control the destiny in what is going to happen like I do in a game of poker,” says Bussman, a partner with Global Market Advisors.

One of those people that doesn’t see it that way is State Sen. Justin Wayne, who represents parts of North Omaha. He believes it is a game of skill and therefore should be regulated outside of casinos in racetracks.

“The industry itself is excluding people,” says Wayne.

He's pushing a separate bill that opens up sports betting outside of the yet to be built horse track casinos.

“The local bar at Kearney can never participate and maybe earn some more revenue for their community, because they cannot participate when they watch Denver versus whoever,” says Wayne.

Lance Morgan, CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., which is set to run three of the state’s horse track casinos, supports sports gaming inside casinos because he believes that what Nebraskans voted on last year.

“I was dead serious at putting some sort of limitation and measured approach to gaming and expansion and we advertised that and we said it for years and we’re sticking to that,” says Morgan.

But there were opponents who do not want sports betting in Nebraska at all. They say the voters never approved sports gambling. Former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne worries the effect it will have on college athletes.

“Your gambling on guys that are 18, 19, 20 and 21. And if they don’t measure up to what some gambler thinks they should have done, social media will be all over them and will be brutal,” says Osborne, a longtime opponent of gambling.