Fantasy Sports Measure On Nebraska Agenda
Nebraska state Senator Carol Blood introduced a bill, LB 137, that would legalize, tax and regulate daily fantasy sports sites. At a recent meeting of the state Senate General Affairs Committee, Sean Ostrow, a lobbyist for the DFS industry, said 20 states to date have passed legislation allowing DFS. Other states, like Nebraska, consider DFS an illegal form of gambling. The Nebraska constitution prohibits betting on games of chance, with exceptions for lotteries, pickle cards and horseracing.
Blood’s bill would require Fan Duel, Draft Kings or any other operators to register with the Nebraska Department of Revenue and pay a fee of $10,000 for the first year. After that, they would pay 6 percent of annual revenue, up to $10,000, each year.
Blood said DFS is a game of skill, not chance. “Managers of these games take into account a myriad of statistics, facts and game theory,” she said.
Members of two anti-gambling groups, the Nebraska Family Alliance and Gambling with the Good Life, testified against Blood’s bill. Gambling with the Good Life Director Pat Loontjer said, “There’s no reason for Nebraska to jump into this right now.”
No other gambling legislation—including any sports betting measure–has been filed in Nebraska. Mike Newlin, general manager at Horsemen’s Park in Ralston, said Iowa’s potential approval of sports betting would strike another blow to Nebraska’s shrinking horseracing industry. “It will be devastating. Iowa is progressive. They have capitalized on the fact that Nebraska doesn’t have gambling. And they’ve reaped the rewards,” Newlin said.
Newlin said Nebraska breeders and tracks have been struggling to compete with a growing number of gambling options in neighboring states, especially Iowa. A 2013 study estimated Nebraskans spend $327 million annually at Iowa casinos. “We’re surrounded. Every state that touches Nebraska has casino gambling. There’s only so many gambling dollars out there,” Newlin said.