Nebraska is not a state where the gaming industry thrives. There are no commercial casinos and just four small tribal casinos. Additionally, the state regulates the lottery, charity bingo, horse racing and keno.
However, every state that borders Nebraska has casinos. This includes one in South Dakota that is so close that it uses a Nebraska mailing address. The reservation it is on straddles the state line. Council Bluffs, Iowa hosts casinos across the state line from Omaha.
Daily fantasy sports contests are not regulated in Nebraska. All major operators accept players from the state.
Below is a list of legal gambling options in Nebraska and where to find each:
- Horse racing: Trackside, off-track betting, online betting
- Bingo: Only by registered charities
- Lottery: Tickets may only be purchased at retailers
- Keno: At tracks and businesses that serve alcohol
Legal Nebraska Gambling Sites and Apps
Nebraska Online Gambling
Online gambling options are very limited in Nebraska. The two forms of legal online gaming include daily fantasy sports and online horse racing betting. Every other form of online gambling or sports betting is prohibited and unregulated.
Nebraska is home to four tribal casinos:
Nebraska Sports Betting
Sports betting is not legal in Nebraska. No effort has been made to change that since the Supreme Court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional in 2018.
Casinos in Iowa may offer sports betting and are just a short drive away from some parts of the state. Nebraskans may also register for mobile betting accounts in Iowa and may place wagers online by crossing the border into Iowa.
Poker rooms are not legal in Nebraska. Poker players must go to home games or drive to Council Bluffs, Iowa or Yankton, South Dakota. Residents of western Nebraska will need to drive to Deadwood, South Dakota.
Home Poker Games
Nebraska’s law against promoting gambling requires the house to make money from the game. If a rake is not taken, the game is legal, as long as the game is fair.
Nebraska Daily Fantasy Sports
There are no specific laws that involve fantasy sports contests in Nebraska. The Nebraska attorney general has never opined on the topic, and the legislature has never seriously discussed regulating it. Operators such as FanDuel and DraftKings consider this to be a green light to accept Nebraskan players.
Nebraska Horse Racing
There are three ways to make a wager in Nebraska on horse races. One is to go to a live event at the state’s four tracks. Another is to take advantage of the simulcasting facilities that offer off-track betting at each racetrack.
Nebraska requires its race tracks to offer at least one race day a year to offer off-track betting. Most have one or two weekends a year at different times to avoid competing in the struggling industry.
Each Nebraska racetrack offers a mobile betting app, but wagers may only be placed while physically present at the track. Statewide mobile racing betting is not permitted.
Nebraska Esports Betting
An esports game is likely illegal to wager on in Nebraska, especially if the bettors are not participating. There is no law that covers the activity and it is unclear if it is legal to wager on one’s own esports matches.
That being said, competitive esports sites that allow customers to wager money on themselves do accept customers from Nebraska and have had no issues to date. GamerSaloon.com and PlayersLounge.co are both available in Nebraska.
Nebraska Bingo and Keno
Bingo in Nebraska
Tribal casinos and registered charities are permitted to offer bingo. The charity must be registered in the state at least five years to qualify for a bingo license. This prevents outside companies from operating bingo in the state under the façade of being legitimate.
There is an exception for senior groups. If a club entirely consists of members that are at least 60 years old, and the bingo game is only open to seniors, the game does not require licensing.
Keno in Nebraska
Off-track betting facilities and any business with a liquor license may offer keno. The games draw numbers through an automated method. However, the game may only be played through paper tickets. Video keno games are not legal.
The state’s keno industry has not been without scandal. One operator was accused of taking illegal bets on credit. A machine malfunction allowed players to predict numbers, costing a bar owner roughly $150,000.
The Nebraska Lottery offers scratch-off and lotto drawings. Its interstate lotto drawings include:
- Mega Millions
- Lucky for Life
- 2 by 2
The first ticket was sold on February 23, 1993 after voters approved a constitutional amendment in the previous November election.
Nebraska Skill Games
The games of skill legal in Nebraska are few. That is because Nebraska’s gambling law considers anything with an element of chance to be gambling and therefor illegal if not approved by voters and licensed by the state. Players could wager on a game of pure skill, such as an athletic competition where participants wager amongst each other. However, any game using cards or drawings would be illegal.
Online skill game companies, as well as those relying on sweepstakes laws, accept players from Nebraska.
Skill-based gaming machines are not approved to operate for cash prizes in Nebraska.
Nebraska Gambling Laws
Horse racing betting was authorized in 1934 to bring legal gambling to Nebraska for the first time. Charitable bingo was approved in 1958, followed by keno at race tracks and taverns in 1985 and interstate horse racing betting in 1988.
Voters approved a state lottery in November 1992 and the NE Lottery launched the following year.
The links below cover the agencies that oversee or operate these activities:
Nebraska Charitable Gaming
Charitable gaming was approved in 1958 through the Nebraska Bingo Amendment. It included bingo and raffle drawings. Several attempts have been made to expand charitable gaming in the state. However, these attempts failed. A charity must register with the state and cannot begin charitable gaming for the first five years that it is chartered there. An exclusion is made for senior groups if all players are 60 years of age or older. Charitable gamers must be at least 18 years of age.
Nebraska Horse Racing Law
Horseracing is Nebraska’s oldest form of gambling. It started in 1934. There are four race tracks. These facilities may offer off-track betting on interstate races and electronic keno drawings. Mobile racing was added later.
Historical racing is approved by the Nebraska State Racing Commission. However, the state attorney general opined that it did not have the authority to do that as expanding gambling is left up to voters or the state legislature. The state attorney general vowed not to defend the games in court.
Historical racing allows players to bet on past races without knowing the horses involved. It displays the odds from that race and players choose a horse based on that information. Opponents call these slot machines.
A gubernatorial veto killed a bill that passed the legislature that approved these games in 2012. In 2014, the state supreme court removed it from the ballot.
Nebraska Lottery Law
Voters approved a constitutional amendment to create a lottery in November 1992. The state lottery is approved to sell lotto tickets and scratch-offs. Lotto drawings may include interstate ones, such as Powerball and Mega Millions. Lottery ticket buyers must be at least 19 years of age.
The state’s race tracks and taverns may operate keno. The games may not be video version. Players must buy paper tickets and the drawings are made by computer systems operated by outside vendors. The tax rate is two percent. Local voters must approve keno within the county or city. Keno drawings are only permitted during the hours of legal alcohol sales.
Video keno proponents gathered enough signatures to put video keno on the November 2006 ballot through Measure 421. The proposal would have permitted video keno machines at race tracks and taverns. The measure was defeated by a 61-39 margin.
Nebraska Casino Referendums
In 1994, casino supporters proposed a constitutional amendment that would have permitted games of chance at race tracks and taverns. Voters shot down every item in the package of gambling referendums.