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Nebraska poker players are out of luck as it stands today.
Nebraska is the worst state for poker players – or is at least tied for it.
This page will explain why in more detail.
But all you need to know is there are no live casinos, and both online and home poker games are illegal.
It sounds like a few people are trying to change that, though. There have also been discussions about bringing brick and mortar casinos to the state.
But more on that – and our thoughts on if it’ll even happen – in just a second.
For now, let’s start with Nebraska’s home poker laws.
Nebraska’s Home Poker Laws
Most states exclude home poker games (usually referred to as social games) from their gambling laws.
But Nebraska doesn’t.
So, the default here is to assume they’re illegal.
(4) 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, or conducts or participates in any bingo, lottery by the sale of pickle cards, lottery, raffle, gift enterprise, or other scheme not authorized…
And based on my research the state says that poker has too much luck or chance involved to be a game of skill, thus making it a game of chance (and a gambling game).
With that being said, I have not heard of any games or players being busted.
So, chances are you could get away with a game. You would just need to keep it quiet and make sure no one profits from the game other than what they win playing against each other. As a host, you cannot rake pots, charge entry fees or charge for snacks and beer.
But I suggest checking in with your local law enforcement and/or your attorney just to be sure.
Online Poker in Nebraska
Like home games, online poker isn’t mentioned either. By default that makes it illegal under the statute posted above.
I also think the following statute can apply to devices you use to gamble online, such as your computer, phone or tablet – all of which would be illegal:
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, free games redeemable for something of value, instant-win tickets which also provide the possibility of participating in a subsequent drawing or event, or tickets or stubs redeemable for something of value, except as authorized in the furtherance of parimutuel wagering.
28-1107 Possession of a gambling device; penalty; exemption. (3) Possession of a gambling device is a Class II misdemeanor.
That said; you can still find offshore poker sites to join. There is at least a handful that still accepts customers from Nebraska. Your biggest task at this point is finding and joining the legitimate ones.
Casino Poker in Nebraska
As of right now, privately owned or state licensed brick and mortar casinos are not allowed.
There are lawmakers trying to change that, though. The idea is to bring brick and mortar casinos to the state so residents don’t head to other states to play, which of course just takes revenue away from Nebraska.
But all attempts up to this point have been rejected.
Except for the one made in October 2014. That’s the only legislation tabled so far that hasn’t been rejected.
So, we’ll have to wait to see what happens in mid to late 2015.
For now, though, there are four Indian reservation casinos. These offer only video slots, keno, live keno and bingo. Poker (or other table games) is not allowed.
There are 3 horse tracks in the state. A state lottery, too.
Other than that you can participate in charitable gaming in the state. That includes bingo, raffles and lotteries.
Nebraska’s Gambling Future
Experts suggest we’ll see legalized online poker in 2019-2020.
But me? I say; no, no we won’t.
My reason is this:
From my research I’ve found that most states either start or want to start with brick and mortar casinos first.
Chances are Nebraska won’t be any different.
And since 2014 is the first year an attempt to legalize casinos hasn’t been shot down, I think it’s going to be another year or two yet before the state gains traction in that area.
So, assuming things go well, it’ll be 2015-2016 before they even legalize brick and mortar casinos, and another couple years yet (at least) before they build them.
Then I bet they wait to see how that does before considering online gambling. And, like several other states, they might decide to expand that (brick and mortar gambling) before deciding to step foot into the online arena.
All speculation on my part, of course. But based on what I’ve seen so far – and considering how long it’s taken for other states to pass regulated online gaming – if Nebraska decides to regulate online poker I think it’s going to be several years after the ‘experts’ opinion of 2020.