Nebraska Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

Nebraska has some of the most restrictive gambling laws in the country, with most forms of gambling being prohibited, including poker, commercial casinos, and greyhound betting. The main forms of gambling in Nebraska currently include keno, Class II machines (similar to slots), and lottery. This is a drastic contrast from neighboring Kansas, South Dakota, and Iowa — all of which have casinos.

Nebraska’s gambling landscape hasn’t changed much in recent years because there hasn’t been much support for change. This may change soon as the state is on the brink of legalizing commercial casinos, thanks to a growing push.

In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth analysis of Nebraska’s gaming industry, including the state’s laws, places where you can gamble while in Nebraska, as well as our interpretation of Nevada’s statutes that regulate gambling activities in the Cornhusker State.

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Gambling Laws in Nebraska — The Law Overview

The Nebraska State Constitution (Article III, Section 24) regulates the gambling industry in the state. Up until 1934, all forms of gambling were prohibited. In 1934, the Constitution was amended to permit betting on horse races that take place on licensed racetracks. In 1958, the Constitution was amended to allow bingo games hosted by nonprofit organizations. In 1967, the Constitution was again amended to regulate lotteries, raffles, and gift enterprises for charitable purposes. Finally, in 1988, the law books were changed again, this time to permit the simulcasting of horse races.

Slots and table games aren’t allowed in Nebraska, which is why many natives opt to play their favorite casino games in offshore card rooms. Indian casinos are legal, in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. However, tribal casinos are prohibited from offering gambling devices, such as slot machines.

Most gambling matters are covered by Nebraska Revised Statutes, Section 28-1101 et seq.; 9-201 et seq. And 2-1201 et seq.

Nebraska Revised Statutes

Nebraska has numerous restrictions on the gambling games allowed. The keyword used to describe the games of chance in the Statues is “element”. This means that even the games that rely mostly on skill but still have a random element in them can be classified as gambling. For that reason, poker loses the “skill argument” in Nebraska.

Here’s the official definition of gambling from Nebraska’s criminal code:

“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, or conducts or participates in any bingo, lottery by the sale of pickle cards, lottery, raffle, gift enterprise, or other scheme not authorized or conducted in accordance with the Nebraska Bingo Act, the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act, the Nebraska Lottery and Raffle Act, the Nebraska Pickle Card Lottery Act, the Nebraska Small Lottery and Raffle Act, the State Lottery Act, or section 9-701.”

Just in case there was any misunderstanding as to what should be included in this and what should not, here is how Nebraska law books define a gambling device:

“(5) 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. Gambling device shall also include any mechanical gaming device, computer gaming device, electronic gaming device, or video gaming device which has the capability of awarding something of value, free games redeemable for something of value, instant-win tickets which also provide the possibility of participating in a subsequent drawing or event, or tickets or stubs redeemable for something of value… “

Even a pinball or a video machine would be considered illegal under this definition.

Engaging in any form of illegal gambling is considered promoting gambling (if the amount of money wagered exceeds $300) and classified as a class II demeanor. If there is less money on the line, then it’s considered third-degree promoting gambling and a class IV demeanor. Class II demeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail, and Class IV demeanors can get you a fine of up to $500.

What Forms of Gambling Are Allowed?

The state’s casino gambling is limited to four casinos owned and operated by Native American tribes — Native Star Casino, Iron Horse & Bar Casino, Ohiya Casino, and Lucky 77. Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, these establishments are allowed to offer keno, bingo, Class II machines, and live keno. Class II slots differ from Class III (Vegas-style) in delivering results; Class II results are based on bingo cards, whereas Class III results are determined by the Random Number Generator.

Nebraska’s charitable gambling is regulated by the Charitable Gaming Division. There are numerous restaurants and bars across the state offering charitable gambling. Any enterprise that obtains the proper license is allowed to offer lotteries, keno, raffles, bingo, and gift enterprises.

Horse racing is also legal in Nebraska and there are several race tracks across the state. These include Horseman’s Park, AgPark, Lincoln Race Track, and Fonner Park Casino. All these tracks offer exotic wagering such as trifecta, daily double, exacta, and so on.

The Nebraska Lottery was approved by the voters in 1992. There is a mix of in-state and multi-state lottery games offered, including Powerball, Mega Millions, Pick3, 2by2, Pick5, and MyDay.

Nebraska’s law books don’t specifically address online gambling or deem it illegal. Therefore, many residents play at offshore casinos and sports betting sites. However, since internet gaming isn’t mentioned in the exemptions listed in the statute, it’s highly unlikely that Nebraska approves this form of gambling. Nebraska statute mentions computers in section 28-1101 (5) and here’s the excerpt of it:

“Gambling device shall also include any mechanical gaming device, computer gaming device, electronic gaming device, or video gaming device which has the capability of awarding something of value, free games redeemable for something of value, instant-win tickets which also provide the possibility of participating in a subsequent drawing or event, or tickets or stubs redeemable for something of value, except as authorized in the furtherance of pari-mutuel wagering.”

The mention of computers and electronic gaming devices could help Nebraska build a case against operators and players. Our interpretation of Nebraska’s stand on online gambling is somewhere between a grey area and illegal.

To this date, no one has been arrested for placing online bets in Nebraska. In fact, we couldn’t find any instances of them pursuing an online gaming operator.

Where to Gamble in Alaska?

There are currently four casinos operated by Native American Tribes in Nebraska, as well as several racetracks and establishments that serve alcohol and offer charity gambling. We’ll briefly discuss the top three gambling options for Nebraska natives.

Iron Horse Bar & Casino

While maybe not on par with Las Vegas casinos, Iron Horse Bar & Casino presents one of the finest casinos in Nebraska. Located in Emerson, this dark, yet spacious joint features video slots, progressive jackpots, and bar & lounge. There are 89 machines that come in various denominations and themes. Although it’s true that 89 isn’t a mind-blowing number, this low-key casino presents a nice getaway for those living or passing by the East of Nebraska.

Lucky 77 Casino

Located at 200 Main St, Walthill, Lucky 77 casino boasts a small slots hall that features 64 Electronic Bingo games. Unfortunately, table games are nowhere to be found. There is, however, a small snack bar that offers soft drinks and snacks. The games offered here fall into the “Class II video gaming devices” category. This means that they look like slots but they are actually bingo games, and spinning reels are for entertainment purposes only.

Native Star Casino

Native Star Casino is located at 1501 Industrial Parkway 77&75 Hwy. and it’s one of the three properties owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. This spacious, 600-square-foot property features 84 gaming machines and a restaurant. The casino floor is divided into two areas — a smoking and a non-smoking one. If you want to go for the big bucks, this a great place to be, as there are several progressive gaming machines, including a Gold Series Million Dollar Progressive.

FAQ

Where Can I Play Keno in Nebraska?

Numerous bars and restaurants across the state offer live keno.

Are Daily Fantasy Sports Legal in Nebraska?

While Nebraska isn’t quite keen on gamblers, they are still allowed to enjoy Daily Fantasy Sports betting.

Is Online Poker Legal in Nebraska?

Unfortunately, online poker is not legal in Nebraska. Many poker fans play it at offshore sites, knowing that there is a slim chance they’ll get caught or arrested for doing so.

Is Online Horse Racing Legal in Nebraska?

No, it isn’t. Sites like TwinSpires and TVG are not licensed in the state.

What Is the Minimum Gambling Age in Nebraska?

It’s 18 for horse racing and charity games, and 19 for keno and lotteries.