On Tuesday, Nebraska lawmakers approved a bill on casinos at racetracks, which was an initiative that received the approval of Nebraskans last November. Amid debates about the state’s budget, policing, and prisons, the lawmakers approved sports betting in the state but the proposal of banning bets on in-state college games was rejected.
The main focus of the bill was sports betting, with lawmakers agreeing on its legalization but with a few limitations. Athletes, coaches, or other individuals who are involved in games are not allowed to bet on these events. Meanwhile, Senator Patty Pansing Brooks expressed her wish to impose a further ban on sports bets on college games played in the Cornhusker State.
According to Pansing Brooks, allowing bets on college games played in the state of Nebraska will cause harm to the young athletes who participate in the events. Pansing Brooks noted that permitting in-state college sports betting will also take away the fun element and the integrity of college sports. Senator Bruce Bostelman also backed up the ban on college sports betting, expressing concerns about pressuring young athletes who play in these in-state events.
While Senator Adam Morfeld acknowledged the inevitable pressure on athletes, he did not agree with the ban on college sports betting. He noted that Husker athletes are already under pressure by punters across the country and around the world, betting in college sports played in Nebraska. According to Morfeld, the ban on college sports betting will not take away any of the pressure that Husker athletes are experiencing.
Senator Terrell McKinney also disapproved of the ban, stating that the state could benefit from the tax revenue generated through gambling, helping Nebraska offer more services. According to McKinney, these funds can help improve the educational system in the state or decrease the prison population.
Nebraska Lawmakers Approve Gambling Bill Without the Ban on College Sports Betting, Keno Amendment Rejected
In order for the college sports betting ban to have been approved, 25 out of the 49 members of the Legislature had to vote in favor of the amendment to the bill. On Tuesday, however, 18 senators voted in favor of the ban, while 13 opposed it. While Pansing Brooks could have called all senators back to the chamber for a roll call vote, she decided to refrain from such actions. According to her, she did not have the support of enough senators to do that and a revote would have only wasted everyone’s time.
Another amendment to the gambling bill proposed allowing Nebraska players to use their phones to play Keno and pay using debit cards or payment apps. While the paper version of Keno can be played legally in Nebraska, only 22 senators approved the introduction of an online version of the game, with 25 being the required number of votes to pass the bill with the Keno amendment.
Since Nebraska has only one chamber, the bill must go through a final round of approval before the unicameral legislature. The 2021 legislative session of Nebraska is due to end in June.