Nebraska Gambling and Poker Laws are Discussed

Last updated: October 18, 2017 at 4:21pm by SavanahSenator Tyson Larson introduced a bill (LB 469) in late January to regulate online daily fantasy sports betting. The Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts, has recently stated once again that he opposes gambling expansion. A bill was voted on last January to legalize poker rooms but it did not pass with a vote of 14-16. Larson is also trying to get poker classified as a game of “skill” and not “chance”. Nebraska continues to push hard on approving their first commercial casino in the state which would allow them to stop losing money to neighboring states with casinos, estimated at $400 million annually.

Online Poker in Nebraska – Estimated Date of Legalization: 2021-2022

Nebraska has been fairly strict over the years when it comes to gambling in general but the state is softening up as decade after decade goes by, allowing and legalizing many forms of gambling along the way.

Prior to 1934, gambling was illegal on all fronts. In 1934, the Nebraska Sate Constitution was amended to legalize pari-mutuel horse racing under the correct guidelines and required licenses. In 1958, Nebraska made another change to their laws which allowed bingo games by non-profit organizations to be legal with the appropriate steps taken. Regulate raffles, lotteries and gift enterprises were now legal in 1967 by the state once again amending their laws. By 1988, simulcasting of horse races was now legal. By 1993, legislation was passed which created a state lottery, the Nebraska Lottery.

As you can see, the state of Nebraska is softening up their gambling laws. They went from no forms of gambling to allowing charitable, pari-mutual, lottery, and Indian casino gambling. When it comes to playing online poker legally, this is still a gray area and a hot topic for debate. Although there aren’t really any specific state laws stating playing poker over the internet is illegal, and we could not find any arrests within the state of doing so, there are other state laws that could fall in the category of it being illegal.

Nebraska Statutes on Gambling
Below are a few of the state statutes, definitions, and explanations when it comes to gambling. Statute 8-1101 goes into saying:

  • A person engages in gambling if he or she bets something of value upon the outcome of a future event, which outcome is determined by an element of chance, or upon the outcome of a game, contest, or election.

You will notice the word “chance” which is the key word when looking at gambling versus poker. Many argue the case that poker is a game of “skill” and not chance, therefore, poker is not considered gambling. This is why playing poker with friends or online is always a gray area. The statute later goes onto say:

  • Gambling device shall mean any device, machine, paraphernalia, writing, paper, instrument, article, or equipment that is used or usable for engaging in gambling, whether that activity consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine.

It continues to say how a computer can be deemed a gambling device. Click here to read the full statute.

Nebraska Regulated Online Poker
Many experts don’t believe Nebraska will have regulated online poker anytime soon. It may or may not sound silly, but Warren Buffet is originally from Nebraska and he is a big advocate of not allowing any forms of gambling even if it is heavily taxed. Obviously the state already has several forms of legal gambling so he will never win that battle, and I’m sure at some point playing poker on the internet will be regulated and taxed. It’s just a matter of time.

If you are looking for an insightful article to read we recommend reading the Nebraska State Constitution Article III Section 24. It might not sound like a fun article to read but for the most part it outlines in detail what forms of gambling are permitted or prohibited in Nebraska, along with other very interesting bits of information.

What Types of Tournaments are Legal, Texas Holdem?
Poker Texas Holdem tournaments are legal, but only if they are free to enter and no prizes or awards are given out. If something of value is given out or exchanged it can be considered an illegal form of gambling. Again, the debate is whether poker is considered a game of skill or chance.

Playing pool or throwing darts is considered a game of skill, therefore, for these tournaments and entry fee can be collected and prizes can be awarded out legally.

Other Legal Forms of Gambling
Horse Racing – Horse race betting has been a legal form of gambling in Nebraska since 1934 at licensed tracks. At these tracks you can place exotic wagers, off-track and pari-mutuel bets. Visit the Nebraska State Racing Commission website for the most up-to-date information and news.

Lotteries – The Nebraska State Lottery was established in 1993, and they were the 37th lottery officially formed. Pickle cards are also legal which are called pull-tab cards in most other states. You must be 19 or older to buy a lottery ticket and only cash is accepted at licensed locations.

Bingo – Unlike purchasing a lottery ticket where you need to be 19 years of age, for bingo you can be 18 years old. Bingo is legal as long as it’s conducted by a licensed organization. Non-profits can fill out an application to receive a special permit for fundraising activities.

Tribal Gaming – Indian casinos are allowed and legal in the state as long as they abide by the Indian Gaming Regularity Act. We could only find four Indian casinos in the state of Nebraska, which are Class II gaming which limits the full realm of casino gambling games allowed.

Author: Savanah Lavinder
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