Thirty one states and Washington, DC currently have live and legal sports wagering and several more are in the legal though not operational stage, but Nebraska is unlikely to soon join the fray.
Nebraska Cornhuskers players celebrate a play against North Dakota on Sept. 3. Sports betting could take awhile in the state. (Image: Corn Nation)
While the first WarHorse racino is slated to open later this month at the Lincoln Race Course, it could be several years before Nebraska rolls out sports wagering. Voters in the state approved casino gaming in November 2020 and the legislature established the related framework last year, paving the way for sports betting at a later date.
The holdup is Nebraska policymakers haven’t begun debating regulations and rules pertaining to sports betting. As was the case with casinos, sports wagering faces its own, separate process before the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission, which is comprised of multiple steps.
As reported by the Omaha World-Herald, those include a public hearing, a commission vote, examination by the attorney general’s office and final approval by the governor.
Lengthy Timeline for Nebraska Sports Betting
There are few certainties regarding sports betting policy and debut in any state, but in Nebraska it’s clear this form of wagering won’t be available this year and is unlikely to be ready in 2023.
It took about five months for casino rules to be approved by the governor after the Racing and Gaming Commission voted on them in December, so if the process takes the same amount of time, that would mean sports betting rules could be in place by March or April of next year,” reports the World-Herald.
Some eager Nebraska bettors may be apt to compare the sports betting situation in their state to neighboring Kansas. Regulated sports wagering in Kansas launched on Sept. 1, meaning the time from passage of legislation to going live and legal will be less than 90 days. To date, that’s a record since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
However the Kansas/Nebraska comparison isn’t apples-to-apples because the former had established casinos and related policy in place prior to sports betting being approved, meaning sports wagering could easily be expedited.
As noted in the World-Herald, sports betting won’t launch in Nebraska until 2.5 years after voters approve it, meaning 2026 is the best hope assuming the issue is put on a 2023 ballot.
Nebraska Has Ample Regional Competition
In addition to the rapid debut of sports betting in Kansas, Nebraska faces regional sports betting competition on multiple fronts as Missouri is the only one of the six states Nebraska borders that doesn’t offer regulated sports wagering.
Iowa is one of the sports betting leaders among states of comparable size while Colorado voters approved sports wagering in November 2019 and it was live there just a few months later. Today, the state is home to one of the most thriving sports betting markets in the US.
Even when Nebraska does get around to approving sports betting, the regional competition may not disappear simply because the state is requiring in-person wagering.