In a 2020 vote, Nebraska voters approved legalized casino-style gambling in the Cornhusker state. The question in contention this week in April 2021 was whether or not casino visitors would be able to actual lay bets on the Cornhuskers games.
If you’re not a Nebraskan, or familiar with the state, University of Nebraska football is a rather big event. Like, statewide big. With six new casinos opening up at the state’s licensed racetracks, the question for the sportsbooks inside the casinos was whether to allow bets on Nebraska football games. More specifically, Nebraska home games.
As voting proceeded in the casino implementation bill, numerous legislators supported a bill banning betting on Nebraska games. The thought being this situation added even more unnecessary pressure to the student-athletes, knowing that their friends and family may be betting on the game. The amendment was modified to ban Nebraska football betting only on home games. But both versions ultimately fell in voting, with opponents insisting that the betting would still place on the Cornhuskers games, only the bettors would take their business to nearby Iowa or Las Vegas. So, same pressure on the players, and less gambling tax revenue.
Ultimately, as retail casinos and sportsbooks come to more and more states, many of which even ten years ago there’s no way you would’ve predicted this would’ve ever happened, the tax money’s the thing. Given the ever-shrinking of the world via technology and transportation, gamblers can move their bets where they please. The message then becomes — it’s not a question of whether we condone gambling, it’s a question of who receives the tax benefits. It’s hard to argue against that, as a purely practical matter.
So, if you happen to be a Nebraska football player, in addition to worrying about being on national TV, the entire state counting on you for a win, now Uncle Joe’s mortgage may also be on the line. Unless Uncle Joe bet against you. He’ll never tell.