Legal Nebraska Gambling

Nebraska Gambling

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 and off-track betting
  • Bingo: Only by registered charities
  • Lottery: Tickets may only be purchased at retailers
  • Keno: At tracks and businesses that serve alcohol

Online Gambling in Nebraska

Online gambling options are very limited in Nebraska. The two forms of legal online gaming include daily fantasy sports and games of skill. Every other form of online gambling or sports betting is prohibited and unregulated.

Fantasy sports sites in Nebraska:

  • FanDuel
  • DraftKings

Online games of skill:

  • WorldWinner

Land-based Casinos in Nebraska

Nebraska is home to four tribal casinos:

Iron Horse Bar & Casino      

1106 S Main St
Emerson, NE 68733

Lucky 77 Casino

200 Main St
Walthill, NE 68067

Native Star Casino

1501 Industrial Pkwy
77 & 75 Hwy
Winnebago, NE 68071

Ohiya Casino & Resort

53142 Hwy 12
Niobrara, NE 68760

Sports Betting in Nebraska

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 in Nebraska

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.

Fantasy Sports in Nebraska

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.

Horse Racing in Nebraska

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 racetracks 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.

Columbus Horse Racing

Agricultural Park
822 15th St
Columbus, NE 68601

Horsemen’s Park

6303 Q St
Omaha, NE 68117

Fonner Park

700 E Stolley Park Rd
Grand Island, NE 68802

Lincoln Race Course

7055 S 1st St
Lincoln, NE 68512

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.

Nebraska Lottery

The Nebraska Lottery offers scratch-off and lotto drawings. Its interstate lotto drawings include:

  • Mega Millions
  • Powerball
  • 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.

Games of Skill

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.

Esports

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.

Traditional Online Skill Games

Online skill game companies, as well as those relying on sweepstakes laws, accept players from Nebraska. These companies include King, WorldWinner and WPT Online.

Skill-based Gaming Machines

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 racetracks 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 Horseracing Law

Horseracing is Nebraska’s oldest form of gambling. It started in 1934. There are four racetracks. 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.

Nebraska Keno

The state’s racetracks 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 racetracks 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 racetracks and taverns. Voters shot down every item in the package of gambling referendums.

Nebraska Gambling FAQ

Are casinos legal in Nebraska?

Nebraska does not have commercial casinos, but a handful of small tribal casinos do operate across the state.

Where are the closest casinos to Omaha?

Council Bluffs, Iowa is directly across the Missouri River from Omaha.

Is poker legal in Nebraska?

Live poker rooms and online poker are not legal in Nebraska. None of the state’s tribal casinos offers poker.

What types of gambling are legal in Nebraska?

Horseracing, keno, lottery and charitable gaming are legal in Nebraska.

What forms of online gaming are legal in Nebraska?

The closest things to legal online gambling in Nebraska are daily fantasy sports and games of skill.

Does Nebraska have a gaming smoking ban?

Smoking is not permitted in any off-track betting parlor, keno operation or bingo parlor in the state. Tribal casinos set their own rules on smoking individually.

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