Small possibility of sports betting coming to Nebraska

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Published: May. 14, 2018 at 9:44 PM CDT
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In a landmark decision the country's highest court ruled it should be up to states on whether or not to legalize sports gambling. It could be a while before, or if, anything happens in Nebraska.

According to the American Gamin Association, they estimate that people annually wager 150 billion dollars illegally, this includes 90 billion on NFL and college games. But, Nebraska may not be taking a piece of that income.

Horse betting is the only form of gambling legal in the Cornhusker state right now. But Senator's like Tyson Larson think with the new Supreme Court decision these laws should change.

"We are surrounded by states that have legalized gambling. Over 90 percent of Nebraskans live within 70 miles of a casino. We have all the social problems, but none of the economic benefit, and that's a problem," said Larson.

Governor Pete Ricketts though wants to keep Nebraskan's money away from the sports books.

"Nebraska joined the lawsuit as a matter of principle, because it was a matter of states' rights. However, sports betting is still illegal here in Nebraska and we have no plans to change that." said Gov. Ricketts.

Mike Newlin, with the Horseman's Park in Omaha, isn't optimistic.

"1934 - Nebraska was one of the first states to legalize gambling on horse racing. Since then, not much has changed." said Newlin.

But Newlin agrees with Larson, and thinks it's about time.

"I think probably whether it's casino gambling or sports betting, one way or another it needs to go before the voters and let them decide," said Newlin.

"We can continue to ride our moral high ground or we can look at the reality of things and start to have the true economic development that we want in Nebraska," said Sen. Larson.

While Nebraska isn't jumping on the betting bandwagon, Iowa's governor and legislature are looking to add it to their state next year.

In Nebraska, voters would have to sign off on a constitutional amendment to even make it possible.