Nebraska introduces bill to legalize in-state college sports betting

Nebraska’s lawmakers are pushing to make amendments to its sports betting legislation to include in-state college sports wagering.
Image: Bob Cullinan/Shutterstock

Nebraska may not have launched its regulated sports betting market yet, but the state’s lawmakers are already pushing to make amendments to its legislation to include in-state college sports wagering.

Current state law regarding sports betting allows for wagering to take place at racino operators so long as it’s not on in-state collegiate teams. Racinos are subject to a 20% tax rate on the sports betting revenue they generate.

However, while retail sports wagering was authorized in May 2021, it isn’t operational in the state, as it has not yet been regulated. Online sports betting isn’t legal.

A new bill, LB168, introduced this week in Nebraska by state Sen. Eliot Bostar, is asking to lift the current ban on college sports wagering that was created by state lawmakers two years ago, allowing for bets to take place on in-state college sporting events.

Tax revenue generated from such wagers would then be used towards college scholarships via the Nebraska Opportunity Grant Fund, which offers financial support to Nebraska students if they are attending in-state colleges.

Nebraska does not have any professional teams in any of the major US leagues, but it does have three NCAA Division I programs – Creighton Bluejays, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and Omaha Mavericks.

Bostar argued that the current law banning wagering on in-state collegiate teams doesn’t make “good policy”, adding that bets shouldn’t be off-limits simply because a game is being played in Nebraska.

He said, according to the Lincoln Journal Star: “We’re talking about gambling on the same team, the same players, doing the same activities. Treating it differently simply based on the geography of where the competitions are taking place doesn’t seem like good policy.”

The bill also has opposition from Pat Loontjer, Executive Director of Gambling with the Good Life, which is against expanded gambling in Nebraska.

Loontjer believes college players and coaches could be put in a dangerous position if in-state college sports betting was allowed.

Bostar noted that the bill would help support a scholarship fund that could be affected by a drop in lottery revenue following the emergence of casino wagering.