Real Money Online Gambling in Nebraska
In its early days as a state, Nebraska used to be completely open to gambling, and opposed to the authorities dictating one’s entertainment choices in general, whether that be drinking, drug use, prostitution, or gambling. There were lots of all of this in its early days, until the state changed its mind and prohibition came.
Prohibition may have made legal gambling go away but it didn’t get rid of gambling in general, which remained widespread and just was driven underground. All these years later, in the 21st century, Nebraska may have relented somewhat, but as far as land-based gambling goes, still have a long way to do in order to have their market served legally once again.
Nebraska once thought that they could control real money gambling in their state by controlling gambling operators in their state, which was at least true prior to the internet, where players in Nebraska are no longer limited to operators in the state but can now choose to play at sites hosted elsewhere in the world, places where operating gambling is legal. We’ll show you everywhere you can gamble in Nebraska, whether the gambling operation is located in Nebraska or elsewhere.
History of Gambling in Nebraska
Nebraska in its early days of settlement was rife with gambling, and its capital, Omaha, once had the highest per capita gambling of any city in the country. Omaha began its life in 1854 as a gambling hotbed, a trend which continued well into the state’s gambling prohibition days.
Omaha in the 19th century was considered “wide open,” and was famous from coast to coast as a place to go to enjoy all the vices of the day, including lots of gambling. By 1887, the state of Nebraska had their fill of this, and banned the operation of gambling houses in the state.
This did not make it go away though, and far from it. Gambling continued to thrive underground with the help of various organized crime organizations, who saw the big appetite of people in the state as an exceptional opportunity. The Irish mob ran it until 1930, when their leader died, and the business was taken over by the Italians.
In 1934, the state legalized the operation of pari-mutuel wagering, to give the people of the state something else to bet on besides the illegal gaming that continued to be so prevalent. At that point in time, the only real money gambling that could be legally offered was pari-mutuel betting, betting on horses, but the state ended up permitting charitable bingo in 1958, charitable raffles and lotteries in 1967, a state lottery in 1992, and simulcast pari-mutuel wagering in 1998.
Along the way, the state’s Indian tribes used the federal Indian Gaming Act to build 5 small casinos so far, and while the gambling that the state actually allows is currently limited to charitable gambling, the lottery, and betting on horses, this is about to change, as a law was passed in 2020 to allow the Indians to run slots at 3 of the state’s horse racing tracks, turning them into racinos.
Nebraska has been kicking around the idea of licensing commercial casinos for many years now, starting with a bill in 2004 that didn’t make it. These efforts picked up over the last 5 years and the state will soon have 3 racinos to go along with their 4 tribal casinos, which is at least a start.
Nebraska Gambling Laws
Nebraska gambling laws are among the most interesting of any state, and the reason isn’t because the laws are so convoluted, as they are as clear as we could ever hope for. Still though, a lot of people get confused by them, even those who are legally trained and should know better.
For example, there are legal sources who will look at the law and its definition of gambling, understand it to be very comprehensive, and assume that it seeks to achieve what it is supposed to, to ban all gambling unless otherwise prohibited, which then somehow becomes the sum total of all the things in Nebraska that you can gamble at.
There are some very stupid mistakes that gambling lawyers make and this isn’t as bad as some of them but this one is still pretty blatant. It turns out that Nebraska has no laws against real money gambling at all, in spite of how well-defined gambling is in the state.
We’ll start with Nebraska’s definition of gambling in order to tell the story of how some have been so easily tricked. If someone was seeking to include all forms of what we consider to be gambling, wagering on contingencies, Nebraska does a fine job at this.
It starts with “a person engages in gambling if he or she bets something of value upon the outcome of a future event.” That in itself does the trick, although it’s overbroad, but going that way and then excluding what you wish to like business transactions or insurance is a commonly used tactic, and if the main stipulation does succeed in capturing all of the betting we wish to, we have achieved the objective.
The law goes on to refine the scope of this definition as bets “whose outcome is determined by an element of chance, or upon the outcome of a game, contest, or election.” We’ve captured casino games and poker which are based upon an element of chance, where if chance plays a role at all an element of chance is present. It also captures sports betting by also including betting on “the outcome of a game, contest, or election.” The net has been cast, and everything we normally consider to be gambling is captured, including betting at physical locations or online.
From here, the state will then keep us appraised of exceptions to this presumably, where you can bet on the horses at licensed tracks, the lottery, and at one of the state’s Indian casinos, which are exempt from state authority anyway by way of federal law.
So far this looks like the gambling law of a lot of states, and states try to accomplish exactly this, some well and many not so well. Nebraska is one of the few states that actually accomplish the task of capturing all forms of gambling for money on games of some sort, but one important element has been left out, and this is the part that gets missed.
We know with great clarity how Nebraska defines gambling, but the next question needs to be, is there a law against gambling in Nebraska? The answer is, surprisingly, a clear no. It wasn’t that Nebraska wasted its time so carefully and comprehensively defining gambling, because this is needed to make promoting gambling against the law, as we need to know what gambling is before we can prohibit its promotion.
Nebraska isn’t unique in just focusing on gambling operators in its gambling laws, and people do get fooled by the laws of other states, but nothing like Nebraska’s laws does. We aren’t entitled to assume that providing such an effective definition of gambling means that it is against the law to gamble, and in fact it would be foolish to not look at what is prohibited by law in this state and see that the act of gambling doesn’t even come up.
It is therefore not a true statement to tell people that certain forms of gambling are illegal in Nebraska, because no form of gambling is illegal, which means all forms of gambling are legal. This is another mistake that people make, and you could be found playing craps in a back alley but couldn’t be charged with anything just by gambling at it.
There are even claims that the law is unclear about whether it is legal or not to gamble online because although it’s allegedly against the law to gamble, the law didn’t mention real money online gambling specifically. If it is against the law to place bets on games with an element of chance or on games at all, it won’t make a material difference whether the bets are made at a physical table or a virtual one, as both involve the same betting.
However, it simply isn’t a crime to bet on anything whatsoever in this state, and all gambling is in fact legal since there is no law against it, online or otherwise. It’s not that this takes any special skills to interpret, as all we have to do is to look at what is against the law here, see gambling not included at all, and then come to the correct understanding.
Players in Nebraska therefore need not worry about the law at all when they choose to gamble, whether it is at an illegally operated back room casino where the operators are in violation of Nebraska gambling laws or at an offshore site that is entirely outside their jurisdiction. You can’t break laws that do not exist and laws against gambling in Nebraska do not exist.
Land-Based Gambling in Nebraska
Nebraska finally got a state lottery in 1995, and offer both in-state games and all of the major national drawings. Nebraska also allows for charitable gambling, and social gambling has always been completely legal provided that it is genuine social gambling where only the participants benefit.
Otherwise, running these games would violate Nebraska gambling laws. You can gamble all you want legally in Nebraska at whatever you want, but running gambling games in the state without permission will run you afoul of the law if you get caught.
The only licensed gambling establishments in Nevada are the state’s 6 horse race tracks. Nebraska has made several efforts to bolster their horse racing industry, including pushing to allow for simulcasts as well as to try to get a bill passed to permit them to offer slots and become racinos, and after a decade of trying the bill was finally passed in 2020 and 3 of the state’s horse race tracks are now set to become racinos.
Nebraska also has 5 Indian casinos, who aren’t normally very fussy about racetracks getting slots due to the competition this involves, but the Indians have been given the opportunity to build and run the casino side of these 3 proposed racinos, which makes both the state and the tribes happy. The tribes keep their monopoly on casino gambling in Nebraska, and the state still gets to pass this all off on them.
Adokad Park, Horseman’s Park, and the Lincoln Racecourse all will get casinos on site soon, with the other 3 tracks having to wait, for now at least. It could just be a matter of time before we see more racinos in Nebraska, although given that it took 10 years of lobbying to get this far, it could be a while longer before we see more of this approved.
Nebraska’s tribes could use the action though as their holdings are very modest at the present time. It’s not that they only have 5 casinos, it’s how small they are. The largest, the Ohiya Casino and Resort, does have 400 slot machines on site as well as bingo games, but this is by no means a large casino or even a medium sized ones as far as casinos go.
The Prairie Flower Casino is Nebraska’s mid-size model, with 200 slot machines and a bingo room. The Native Star only has 30 slots, the Iron Star offers 54 gaming machines, and the Lucky 777 only offers bingo and bingo machines.
Nebraska’s casino industry sure could use a boost, and more slots coming at these 3 racinos will definitely make a difference as far as gaming revenue in the state goes. Nebraska’s casino market is only a shadow of its former self, back when it was a dominant force on the American gambling scene in the 19th century, but they are at least making a comeback of sorts lately.
Nebraska Online Casinos & Slots Gambling
Given that Nebraska doesn’t even have Class III gambling at their Indian casinos, we might think that the prospects of their passing legislation to authorize any sort of online gambling, which is typically seen as much more risqué, would be pretty slim right now. That’s actually not the case at all, and Nebraska is in serious discussion to legalize games of skill such as sports betting and poker, with an expectation that the goal is to offer these games online as well.
Nebraska has not officially come out with the idea to allow real money online gambling, and any thought of this hasn’t been put to paper yet, but the view among some in the know is that the intention is there. It will come down to whether enough support can be gained to pass a bill including online gambling, but given the way that the state of Nebraska prefers gambling games based upon skill versus ones whose outcomes are based on chance like casino games, this has now become a realistic possibility.
Sports betting is an obvious game of skill, something that a lot of states forget about when they ban games of chance and somehow assume sports betting is in any way based upon chance. The fact that Nebraska has made the distinction with community card and draw poker games being games of skill versus other forms of poker that don’t quite measure up to the requirement of a game of skill in their estimation does tell us that they are getting ready for something.
Since there are no laws against gambling in Nebraska anyway, there aren’t any against gambling online either. Perhaps Nebraska figured that it could control land-based gambling by completely focusing on regulating land-based gambling operators, but the world has changed, with players having such easy access to operators well beyond Nebraska jurisdiction.
Online gambling is actually wide open right now in Nebraska, and what is under review is if and when the state will decide to join the party and license sites on their own to stand among the many sites out there regulated by others that Nebraskans can enjoy now.
As limited as Nebraska’s current land-based gambling scene is, with just 5 small to very small Indian casinos to choose from, with just a few slots and no table games or sports betting or even poker tables to enjoy, the online world serves to open up the market completely among those who wish to gamble online for real money in Nebraska.
Future of Gambling in Nebraska
There are only 684 slot machines in the entire state of Nebraska, and no table games or poker tables or other forms of casino gambling, and this doesn’t even add up to one good small-sized casino. There is much room for gambling to grow in this state, and while adding in these extra slots at these 3 racetracks will help, Nebraska will still be left with very little land-based gambling.
The view of gambling across the country has changed a lot over the last few decades, but this progressive thinking hasn’t been distributed that well. We once had a big divergence between Nevada and every other state back when Nevada had the only legal casino gambling, and while many states have made up a lot of ground since, getting closer to Nevada at least, Nebraska has chosen to remain very far behind.
Nebraska remains firm in their commitment to turn over the entire casino gambling enterprise to the Indians, even as they get ready to allow slots at non-tribally owned racetracks. This is the part that the state needs to remedy, to get over thinking that it could be all right to have natives run these operations but not appropriate for non-natives.
Nebraska may have been able to make the argument that they oppose casino gaming in principle and only allow the tribes to offer it due to their not having enough of a say in the matter, to be coerced by federal law, but given that they themselves now permit off-reservation casino gambling, they aren’t permitted to discriminate based upon race and continue to deny non-native interests access to this market that they have now opened up.
The primary goal of Nebraska legislators is obviously to continue to restrict the access of their people to casino gambling. Some states do so by way of principle, maintaining that gambling is in itself wrong, but a state cannot be against gambling in principle and also be in the gambling business, and just having a state lottery violates their own principles.
They then must rely on other principles to restrict it, and what we see instead is an unprincipled approach based upon arbitrary conditions that they are able to impose without any need of justification.
Why Nebraska has so little casino gambling right now would be a very good question that the state may not even be able to come up with an answer that makes any sense. The state must distinguish properly between the gambling they allow and the gambling that they do not allow, and if they wish to maintain that gambling is wrong and people need to be protected from it, they cannot consistently do this while being in the gambling business themselves.
Principles don’t count for much in democracy, which gets its power from popularity, not principle, and in order for this to change much, the popular view needs to change. We do need to realize though that all the Nebraska state government can do is limit the physical locations that Nebraskans can gamble at, which is the entire scope of their gambling law.
It may take quite a while before the state decides to fully open up land-based gambling in Nebraska, or anything close to this, but among those who wish to gamble, there are no restrictions preventing them from doing so online, whether or not Nebraska ever chooses to join this market themselves.
Given that there are no laws against gambling online in Nebraska nor any laws against gambling whatsoever, and that there are many good sites out there that accept online players from Nebraska, and that you only have to sign up for an account with them to start enjoying the best of real money online gambling that the world has to offer, perhaps Nebraska doesn’t have so far to go to be completely opened up to gambling. Perhaps it already is.
Nebraska Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
Was Nebraska always so opposed to gambling?
Nebraska in its early days was everything people imagine frontier gambling to be, only Nebraska was involved in gambling on a bigger scale than you would normally see on the frontier in those days. Gambling was very popular in Nebraska in the 19th century, even after a law was passed prohibiting people from offering it. The operation of gambling was simply turned over to the mob, and the people continued to gamble regardless.
What is it against the law to gamble at in Nebraska?
In spite of a lot of confusion surrounding the legality of gambling in Nebraska, it has never been against the law to gamble in Nebraska, at anything, at any time, including now. What has fooled people is the fact that all gambling has been included in the definition of gambling under Nebraska law, but it’s only illegal to promote gambling, to take a commercial interest in it, while there are no laws against the act of gambling itself, the betting.
How can some people still be so confused about Nebraska gambling law?
If you start by reading the definition of gambling provided in Nebraska state code, you will see any form of gambling imaginable included in it. If you add in the assumption that gambling is illegal in the state and this definition provides you the list of things you can’t do, then you might think that all gambling is illegal unless specified otherwise. We aren’t entitled to this assumption though and it is an incorrect one if we read the law in its entirety.
What does Nebraska gambling law actually accomplish?
Nebraska makes it a crime to promote or offer real money gambling in their state, to run a gambling operation in other words, without permission from the state. In order to enforce such a law, the meaning of gambling must be set out and can’t just be left to common usage, as the law is only concerned with a narrow form of gambling, ones involving specific forms where items of value change hands. The law prohibits such operation of gambling as defined.
Is social gambling against the law in Nebraska?
If there is no law against gambling, then there would be nothing illegal about players gambling together, without a third party running the game. What Nebraska law essentially does is to prohibit commercial gambling, like a card room or casino would offer, without the specific permission of the state. Players playing at a home game without the game being banked by the house does not involve any commercialization and therefore does not break any law.
Is it legal to gamble online for real money in Nebraska?
Since Nebraska gambling law is exclusively directed at gambling operators, and not players, if the operation of the gambling occurs outside the state, where the operators are subject to the laws of their own countries and not the law of Nebraska, Nebraskans gambling at real money online sites located offshore does not involve any violation of Nebraska law whatsoever.
What land-based gambling operations does Nebraska currently allow?
Nebraska doesn’t have a whole lot to offer as far as land-based gambling goes, or any gambling for that matter given that they have not moved to legalize online gambling at this time, although the talk has at least started. Nebraska has 6 pari-mutuel tracks, the lottery, and charitable gambling. Their tribes have 5 small casinos that offer slots only, but more slots are coming soon to 3 of the state’s horse racing venues.
What is holding Nebraska up from allowing more real money gambling?
Nebraska is very much still stuck in the past, a time where betting on horse racing was seen as OK but betting on casino games was not acceptable. As it turns out, Nebraska has a particular issue with betting on games of chance, even though their lottery is a game of pure chance, even more so than most casino games. Nebraska needs to get over their arbitrary views on gambling and seek a more cohesive path to regulating it.
How likely is it that Nebraska may open up their gambling scene more in the near future?
As slow as Nebraska has been to update its gambling views to keep up with states considerably more progressive, we’re at least seeing some positive change lately apart from the state’s recent decision to allow slots at horse racing tracks. While Nebraska still is not too fond of real money casino gambling, the state is taking at least a more positive view toward sports betting and real money poker, which are primarily skill based and therefore seen as less objectionable.
Do Nebraskans need to wait for the state to authorize real money online gambling?
There is not a reason in the world that Nebraskans need to wait for their state to come on board with real money online gambling. Nebraskans have always had access to as much real money online poker, casino, and sports betting that their hearts desire. All they need is an internet connection and the right advice, which we are only happy to provide to them with our top recommendations for Nebraskans.