Gaming in Nebraska

nebraska horse racing gaming

Nebraska sets its sights on being on par with Iowa regarding legal gambling options. Its journey began long before NE voters said yes to two constitutional amendments and more gaming options in the Cornhusker State.

Nebraskans will see the transformations of six horse racetracks into casinos with retail sportsbooks in 2021-22. Soon, Nebraska residents and visitors could enjoy table games, slots and wagering on major league sports.

Let’s take a closer look at casino gambling and sports betting in Nebraska.

Is Sports Betting Legal in Nebraska?

Yes, but it hasn’t launched yet. In May 2021, Gov. Pete Ricketts signed LB 561 — the Nebraska Racetrack Gaming Act — into law. The gaming expansion package includes casino games and sports betting at kiosks at six “racinos,” aka racetrack-casino, in the state.

The legislation doesn’t allow prop bets on individual college athletes — a rule Iowa sports bettors are familiar with — and betting on Nebraska college teams when playing games in the state. The fine print is still being written; however, Iowa online sportsbooks are happy to hear that online sports betting will remain outside of Nebraska’s gaming framework.

How Nebraska Sports Betting Began

In November 2020, Nebraska voters authorized constitutional amendments that will allow the six horse racetracks in the state to convert into “racinos” by adding casino gaming and sports betting.

On the heels of a gambling expansion vote in late 2020, proponents of sports betting legalization in Nebraska struck while the iron was hot. Early in 2021, NE Sen. Brett Lindstrom introduced another constitutional amendment proposal that would authorize statewide online and retail sports betting, potentially putting the issue before voters in 2022.

Not long after that, Sen. Tom Briese put forth a bill in the General Affairs Committee that would immediately effect. Briese’s bill would have grandfather on-site mobile and retail sports betting under the 2020 gambling expansion amendments. NE bettors would have to be on the casino grounds to place legal wagers online.

Popular Sports to Bet on in Nebraska

Nebraska is not home to any major league sports franchises; however, there are a variety of fans to neighboring states’ teams:

Basketball betting

  • Denver Nuggets
  • Minnesota Timberwolves

Baseball betting

Soccer betting

  • Colorado Rapids
  • Minnesota United FC

Football betting

Hockey betting

  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Minnesota Wild

Are Online Casinos Legal in Nebraska?

There are no legal online casino sites in Nebraska. However, there are sweepstakes casinos. If you ever signed up for a chance to win a car or a shopping spree in a raffle, you’ve participated in a sweepstakes-style game. Some companies use the same concept and make casino-style games that you can play online. While online casinos remain illegal in Nebraska, sweepstakes casinos are legal for you to play. The key difference is these casino games don’t require your payment to play them.

You don’t have to pay to play, but you can still win real cash prizes on these websites. How does that work? Sweepstakes casinos use two different forms of currency; one you can buy but can’t redeem for cash prizes and another you can redeem for cash but can’t purchase. There are several ways to get the currency you can turn into cash, but the quickest is to play the games on the sites. The best sweepstakes casinos in Nebraska are:

Future Nebraska Retail Casinos, Racinos

Unlike Iowa, Nebraska has no true casinos in the state, commercial or tribal. The new gambling law authorizes six horse racetracks to expand their operations to casino gaming and retail sports betting. WarHorse Gaming LLC, a division of Ho-Chunk Inc., is leading the progress at four Nebraska sites. The six racetracks and soon-to-be racinos in Nebraska are:

Horsemen’s Atokad Downs

  • Address: 15244 Atokad Drive, South Sioux City
  • Phone: 402-494-5722
  • Hours: Opens at 10:30 a.m. every day. Closes at 7 p.m. Sundays and Wednesdays, 5 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays and 11 p.m. on Fridays.
  • Construction Timeline: To be determined

WarHorse has plans for this casino in South Sioux City but hasn’t announced a timeline.

Columbus Horse Races

  • Address: 822 15th St., Columbus
  • Phone: 402-562-8009
  • Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
  • Construction Timeline: Complete by the end of 2022

Columbus Exposition and Racing announced on July 2, 2021, that Caesars Entertainment would be the future casino operator of the facility.

To be renamed Harrah’s Casino, the new facility will be expanded to 40,000 square feet. The casino racetrack will include a sportsbook, 400 slots, 20 table games, a restaurant and a retail space. Plans also include resurfacing the one-mile racetrack.

Hastings FairPlay Park

  • Address: 1501 S. Burlington Ave., Hastings
  • Phone: 402-469-5673
  • Hours: 4 p.m. daily
  • Construction Timeline: To be determined

Hastings Exposition & Racing plans to revamp Hastings FairPlay Park at the Adams County Fairgrounds. WarHorse is on tap; however, a timeline hasn’t been announced.

Fonner Park

  • Address: 700 E. Stolley Park Road, Grand Island
  • Phone: 308-382-4515
  • Hours: 11 a.m. daily
  • Construction Timeline: To be determined

Elite Casino Resorts announced a partnership with Fonner Park on April 9, 2021, to expand its racetrack facility into the future Grand Island Casino Resort at Fonner Park. The racino will include a 37,000-square-foot casino floor with 650 slot machines and 20 table games, a sportsbook, restaurants, pools, spa and salon, a boutique hotel and a show lounge.

Horsemen’s Park

  • Address: 6303 Q St., Omaha
  • Phone: 402-731-2900
  • Hours: Opens 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Sundays, 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
  • Construction Timeline: Completed by winter 2022-23

The future WarHorse Omaha casino is set to be the largest racino in Nebraska. The facility will include a casino floor with 1,200 gaming positions, a sportsbook and multiple restaurants.

Lincoln Race Course

  • Address: 7055 S. First St., Lincoln
  • Phone: 402-474-5371
  • Hours: Opens 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays, 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Construction Timeline: Completed by fall 2022

The future WarHorse Lincoln casino will include a large casino with nearly 1,400 gaming positions, including slots and table games. The $220 million investment consists of a 196-room hotel overlooking the horse racetrack, a convention center and restaurants.

Betting on Races in Nebraska

Although there are no legal dog racetracks in Nebraska, horse racing is alive and well. A constitutional amendment authorized pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in 1935. The Nebraska State Racing Commission regulates the industry in the state.

You can bet on horse races online with the TVG app. You to place wagers on horse races in Nebraska, as long as you are at least 21 years of age and not barred from gambling for any other reason.

Eligible bettors can complete their account registration completely online within the TVG app. After the app verifies your identity, there are many ways to fund your account. At that point, you can browse through hundreds of races, view data from past events, access the app’s handicapping tools and even view select live races. Perhaps most importantly, TVG has a generous introductory promotion for new customers.

Gambling Responsibly in Nebraska

As casinos and sports betting are brand new to Nebraska, the state is still in the process of setting up controls like a self-exclusion program and advertising standards. However, that doesn’t mean there are no resources for Nebraskans interested in ensuring they are gambling responsibly right now. In fact, the Nebraska Commission on Problem Gambling offers many resources toward that end. Those include:

  • A free, 24-hour anonymous chatline.
  • Educational documents about problem gambling.
  • Resources for practitioners treating people with compulsive gambling issues.
  • A directory of providers of counseling for such issues in the state.

In addition, the National Council on Problem Gambling has a chatline for assistance with this problem. Interested parties can also call or text 800-522-4700 if they prefer. Other support forums available to Nebraskans are:

  • Gamblers Anonymous: A support organization for people who struggle with compulsive gambling themselves.
  • Gam-Anon: This organization supports the loved ones of people with gambling problems.
  • Gam Talk: A virtual support channel for anyone affected by pathological gaming.

Legal Online Gambling in Nebraska vs. Offshore Gambling

There are two facts about using unregulated betting websites in Nebraska. The first is that doing so is illegal, both on the federal and state level. The second is that these operations that allow players from Nebraska will prey upon those with compulsive gambling issues.

Then there are several consumer protection concerns. Bettors have no recourse if such a sportsbook or casino site treats them poorly. For instance, there’s nothing a bettor could do if an illegal operator opts to delay a payout or refuses to distribute winnings. They are often based outside of the US and are not bound to US or Nebraska laws. Additionally, there are no guarantees that the site isn’t selling your personal information. Be safe and place your bets at your local racinos or on sweepstakes casino sites.

Other Gambling Options in Nebraska

Poker rooms in Nebraska

There aren’t any legal cardrooms or poker rooms in Nebraska. Real-money online poker remains illegal in the state. The six horse racetracks may offer poker rooms once the facilities become “racinos.” Nebraskans will get a better sense along those lines when the state finishes its regulations for casino gaming and developers’ plans for those facilities become final.

Daily fantasy sports in Nebraska

Daily fantasy sports games that require paid entries and real cash prizes are a legal gray area in Nebraska. There’s no language in the state code that explicitly authorizes or forbids the activity. For this reason, the activity goes mostly unpoliced in Nebraska. Most well-known brands do currently accept paid entries in the state. Options include:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • Monkey Knife Fight
  • PrizePicks

Nebraska Lottery

At thousands of retailers across the state, Nebraskans can buy lottery tickets. These include Nebraska Lottery games and Multi-State Lottery Corporation games, e.g., the Mega Millions. Online sales of lottery tickets are illegal in Nebraska.

Nebraska Gaming FAQ

None, but six racetracks in the state are in the process of converting to “racinos,” or racetracks that also offer games of chance like slots and table games.

Nowhere yet. However, Nebraska sports betting was recently legalized that allows sports wagering at the racetrack turned casino. Until the “racinos” are operational, Nebraskans can cross borders into Colorado or Iowa to place legal online sports bets.

Zero. The six future racinos may offer poker on some level, even if it’s just a three-card variant. When the state finalizes its regulations for the racinos, Nebraskans will get a better understanding of what legal poker will look like in their state. There are no legal online poker rooms in Nebraska.

Not likely. Nebraska recently legalized kiosk-based sports betting at retail casinos. Online and mobile wagering was a tough sell at the legislative level and didn’t make it into the final bill.

One of the recent constitutional amendments created the Nebraska Gaming Commission. It will oversee casino gaming and sports betting in the state. However, the NE State Racing Commission will continue to oversee horse races and pari-mutuel wagering upon them. The Nebraska Department of Revenue still has oversight when it comes to charitable gaming as well.

You can register for an account, fund that account, browse the odds and make withdrawals in Nebraska on any Iowa sportsbook app. However, you must be within the borders of Iowa to place wagers. It is illegal to bet on sports online in Nebraska. Nebraska “racinos” eventually will open brick-and-mortar sportsbooks on their properties. It will be legal to put down bets there.