Article Published: February 8, 2024, 10:48h.
Last Updated: February 8, 2024, 10:48h.
Several leading sportsbook operators have commissioned a poll to find out the public opinion on online sports betting in Nebraska.
The Lincoln Journal Star recently reported that FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook, typically rivals, have joined forces in Nebraska to promote the cause of online sports betting.
This group is funding a poll to gauge voter support for bringing online betting options to the state’s sports betting legislation. In 2020, residents of Nebraska voted to amend the state constitution to permit casinos at horse racetracks, featuring slot machines, table games, and sports betting.
However, in-person sports betting was the only activity legalized by the 2020 referendums. Five casino projects are under construction, with three running temporary casinos and the fourth operating a temporary sportsbook.
The quartet of sportsbook firms and Ho-Chunk, Inc. believe that Nebraskans want online sports betting options, allowing them to bypass a physical casino visit.
“Sports betting has become legal, and if you’re going to do it, people really … don’t want to drive if they can help it,” stated Lance Morgan, CEO of Ho-Chunk to the Lincoln Journal Star. “They’d much rather do it from their phone.”
For sportsbooks to venture online, a change to the Nebraska Constitution is essential to allow this form of internet gambling. Lawmakers in Lincoln have the authority to pass a bill that could bring about a statewide ballot referendum in November.
Another option would be a citizen-initiated referendum, which calls for about 122,000 valid signatures from state voters. Campaigners would also need signatures from at least 5% of registered voters in a minimum of 38 counties.
Morgan is optimistic that once the poll results are released, state lawmakers will show more support for an online sports betting bill.
Approximately 65% of voters supported the 2020 referendums authorizing racetrack casinos. Once the market matures with the construction of more casinos, the state can anticipate roughly $400 million in annual gaming taxes. Nebraska imposes a 20% tax on all casino games.
Mobile Dominates Betting
In many sports betting states, both in-person and online sports betting is allowed. Bettors in these states largely prefer online betting via sportsbook apps.
In New Jersey, nearly $12 billion in bets were placed last year. Online sportsbooks accounted for 95.5% of the total amount, approximately $11.4 billion. Casino and racetrack sportsbooks took in $528 million worth of wagers.
Critics of online sports betting argue that mobile gambling elevates problem gambling rates.
“Sports betting is just atrocious. You can sit on the phone and lose your home,” commented Pat Loontjer, executive director of Gambling With the Good Life, a nonprofit against gaming initiatives in Nebraska.
After the 2020 referendums, Loontjer predicted that the state’s foray into commercial gaming had only just begun.
“Will they begin offering sports betting on cellphones?” Loontjer pondered. “It will destroy the integrity of sports and corrupt our young people.”