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Nebraska Poker & Online Gambling Laws

NebraskaNebraska is a state that frowns on poker. The state has some legal forms of gambling, including Indian Tribe Casinos, but poker is not permitted in the casinos. The laws are pretty unforgiving when it comes to playing poker. The laws were all written prior to the days of the internet so there aren’t actually any laws that specifically say that playing online poker is illegal in Nebraska so the legality is considered a grey area.

Can Players From Nebraska Play Poker Online?

Yes! Playing poker online is about the only choice poker players from Nebraska have when it comes to playing poker. The state has made no move to block online poker sites so many Nebraskans enjoy playing poker online. Currently, all sites that accept poker players from the United States also accept players from Nebraska.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Nebraska?

The legality question about playing poker online is a common question for poker players in almost all states. As with many other states, Nebraska does not have any laws that mention online poker specifically. The existing laws in Nebraska are pretty much against poker of any kind. We have found a few laws of interest pertaining to poker and gambling in Nebraska that you can review below:

  • Nebraska law defines the participation in gambling as: 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 (Section 28-1101) [1]
  • Nebraska law goes on to define a gambling device as 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 (Section 28-1101)
  • Nebraska takes illegal gambling seriously it is a second degree gambling offense to bet something of value worth $300 or more in one day and is punishable by Class II Misdemeanor. (Section 28-1103)
  • Betting less than $300 in a day in unlawful gambling is considered a class IV Misdemeanor under Nebraska laws. (Section 28-1104)
  • Gambling devices and any money used to bet on these devices will be forfeited to the state. It is unclear if computers or mobile devices used to play online poker are considered gambling devices, but they certainly could be. (Section 28-1111)
  • The punishments for gamblers are light compared to the punishments for the operators of illegal gambling establishments.
  • Players in Texas Hold’em tournaments cannot be charged ANY FEE or be REQUIRED to give anything of value (consideration) as a condition of participation. In other words, players MUST be able to participate in a Texas Hold’em tournament for FREE or no prizes (reward) can be given in the tournaments. [2]
  • We have found no instance where an individual has been charged for playing poker online in Nebraska.

We encourage you to contact a lawyer if you are concerned about the legality of playing poker online in Nebraska. We are in no way professionals in this area. We can just provide the layman terms of the law as we understand it.

Nebraska Gambling History

The documented history of gambling in Nebraska dates back to the 1850s. Gambling of all kinds was widely accepted in Omaha up until the 1970s. The gambling wasn’t exactly legal, and there was a lot of criminal activity going on. The gambling was controlled by the mafia.

The mafia took over the gambling, liquor, and prostitution in Omaha in the 1880s, and they continued to run these schemes for close to 50 years. The Nebraska State Legislature banned gambling houses in Omaha in 1887, but this did little to deter the illegal operations. They just became a bit more secretive about their operations and continued running them.

The state started cracking down on the illegal gambling activities. The crime boss was arrested and sent to prison. The boss that replaced him was also arrested within a year and sent to prison. The crack-down eventually led to most illegal gambling activity within the state to cease. [3]

In 1935, Nebraska legalized pari-mutuel betting on horse races. This was the only legal form of gambling in the state at that time. This was a legal form of gambling, but the state did not really have any race tracks to speak of. The Bluffs Run Greyhound Park opened in 1986 and provided a place for people to place their bets on the horse races.

The next legalized gambling in Nebraska came in 1992. The voters of Nebraska overwhelming approved a state lottery. Shortly after the approval the state lottery went into effect, and the residents were allowed to buy lottery tickets and instant pay scratch off tickets.

The state of Nebraska also signed compacts with Indian Tribes in the 1990s to allow casinos to be built. However, these casinos are limited. They can only offer video games, keno, and bingo. They are not allowed to offer any card games. These restrictions are causing the state of Nebraska to lose a lot of money. Many gamblers go to neighboring states to gamble.

Legalized Gambling Options in Nebraska

Nebraska has a few options for gambling. It is definitely not a poker friendly state. The state has a state lottery, bingo, keno, pull tabs, and scratch off tickets. The laws seem to make it legal to have home poker tournaments as long as no one is taking a rake or charging a fee to participate in the game. Some charity gambling is legal such as bingo and raffles, but poker is not considered legal for charity gambling

Will Nebraska Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

Due to the long history of Nebraska being against poker, we have to say that it is unlikely that they will legalize online poker anytime in the near future. It is likely that the state will opt-out of any federal legislation to legalize online poker.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Nebraska Gambling Statutes
  2. Jump up ^ Nebraska Commission
  3. Jump up ^ Nebraska Gambling History
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