Nebraska Poker Laws, Bills & Legislation
Nebraska’s laws do not specifically say if online poker is legal in Nebraska or illegal. Horse racing has long been popular in Nebraska, which led to the establishment of the Nebraska State Racing Commission in 1935. The pari-mutuel wagering and horse racing industries were important enough to warrant an agency to oversee it and establish regulations for it.
The state lottery was approved by voters in 1992, which led to the creation of the Nebraska Lottery the following year. Scratch-off tickets and lotto tickets remain one of the few ways to gambling legally in Nebraska. Some bingo games and raffles are legal as well.
When the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed Congress in 1988, it allowed the Native American tribes of Nebraska to work with the state legislature on the issue of gambling. Three tribes now have compacts with the state to operate casinos: Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, and Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska. The casinos are allowed to offer slot machines but no table games like poker.
Latest Developments Regarding Online Poker in Nebraska
Since the 1990s when the lottery was legalized and Native American-run casinos were agreed upon and opened, there has been little in the way of furthering or expanding gambling.
The closest that legislators in Nebraska have come is to debate a daily fantasy sports bill. It was introduced in 2017 and didn’t advance very far, so the bill carried over to 2018 and did move into debate mode early in the year. It has yet to pass, however. And if it does, it is very unlikely to have any effect on the potential for sports betting or online poker or casino games of any kind.
Nebraska Laws Pertinent to Online Poker
In terms of definitions, the first pertinent section notes:
“A person advances gambling activity if, acting other than a player, he or she engages in conduct that materially aids any form of gambling activity.” Further, it includes conduct such as the “creation or establishment of the particular game, contest, scheme, device, or activity involved.”
The law also states that
“a person profits from gambling activity if, other than as a player, he or she accepts or receives money or other property pursuant to an agreement or understanding with any person whereby he or she participates or is to participate in the proceeds of a gambling activity.”
And as for players, it includes anyone who “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.”
Gambling devices are defined as
“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.”
This does include a “computer gaming device.”
There are penalties for promoting gambling based on the severity of the offense.
- Knowingly advancing or profiting from unlawful gambling activity by receiving $1,500 or more of wagers in one day: Class I misdemeanor
- Knowingly advancing or profiting from unlawful gambling activity by receiving less than $1,500 of wagers in one day: Class II misdemeanor
- Knowingly advancing or profiting from unlawful gambling activity by knowingly participating as a player by betting less than $500 in one day: Class IV misdemeanor
While players are rarely, if ever, prosecuted for simply a player, the law states that a defendant’s status as a player does qualify as an affirmative defense.
On the other hand, the law also says that jurisdiction is not a valid defense. Specifically, “It shall be no defense to a prosecution under any provision of this article relating to gambling that the gambling is conducted outside this state and is not in violation of the laws of the jurisdiction in which it is conducted.” This likely applies to any online poker operator who claims offshore jurisdiction.
On the Nebraska Gaming Commission’s website, there is an FAQ section that addresses a few questions. A question regarding gambling states that there is no legal gambling in the state. When asked about keno, bingo, lottery, etc., the official state answer is:
“According to Nebraska law, those are not legally games of chance, therefore they do not qualify as gambling.”
Disclaimer: This is not written by an attorney and is not or should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney for help interpreting these laws as they pertain to any given situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Has any poker operator ever been prosecuted by Nebraska authorities?
Answer: No. This is something that Nebraska likely doesn’t want to pursue on its own. Should other states set a precedent or should the federal government take a stand at any point in the future, there is a chance that a prosecutor could seek arrests. Even so, it is unlikely and would not involve players.
Question: What kinds of poker sites operate in Nebraska?
Answer: No poker operators are based in Nebraska, but there are a number of other recommended sites that welcome players from Nebraska. Sites like Bovada, Ignition Poker, and Intertops have catered to Nebraska poker players for years.
Question: Will Nebraska banks process credit card deposits?
Answer: Every bank has different rules about processing online payments to gambling sites. Most banks do not object to legal transactions, but some banks will flag the site operators by name and refuse to process the transactions. If a player has a credit card connected to a bank that won’t process a deposit, there are other options listed on each site.
Nebraska Gaming Resources