Several major sportsbook operators have sponsored a public opinion poll in Nebraska to gauge public sentiment toward online sports betting. FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook, along with Ho-Chunk, Inc., are leading the charge to legalize internet wagering in the Cornhusker State. They have joined forces despite being competitors in the industry.

Nebraskans approved referendums in 2020 to allow casinos at horse racetracks, featuring slot machines, table games, and sports betting, but the approval only covered in-person sports betting. As a result, five casino projects are currently under construction, with three operating temporary casinos and another operating a temporary sportsbook.

However, the sportsbook operators and Ho-Chunk believe that residents would prefer to have the option of online sports betting, rather than being limited to physical casinos. Lance Morgan, the CEO of Ho-Chunk, stated, “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. They’d much rather do it from their phone.”

In order to legalize online sports betting, the Nebraska Constitution would need to be amended, and lawmakers in Lincoln could potentially pass legislation to initiate a statewide ballot referendum. Another option is a citizen-initiated referendum, which would require securing approximately 122,000 valid signatures from state voters.

The results of the poll, once released, are hoped to persuade state lawmakers to consider an online sports betting bill. The 2020 referendums, which authorized racetrack casinos, were supported by about 65% of voters. Once the casinos are operational, the state anticipates receiving around $400 million in annual gaming taxes as a result of the 20% tax levied on all casino games.

While critics of online sports betting argue that it increases problem gambling rates, statistics from other states show that bettors heavily prefer remote betting via sportsbook apps. In New Jersey, for example, online books accounted for 95.5% of the total bets taken last year, totaling nearly $11.4 billion, while casino and racetrack sportsbooks took $528 million in wagers.

Pat Loontjer, the executive director of “Gambling With the Good Life,” a nonprofit that opposes gaming initiatives in Nebraska, expressed concerns about the potential negative impacts of mobile sports betting, citing the potential to “destroy the integrity of sports” and “corrupt our young people.”

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