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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) About Gambling In Nebraska

Why are some forms of gambling legal while other forms are not permitted?

A: The Nebraska State Constitution (Article III, Section 24) is the base to determine what forms of gambling are permitted or prohibited. Until 1934 ALL forms of gambling were illegal. At that time the Constitution was amended to permit pari-mutuel horse racing when conducted on licensed race track enclosures. In 1958 the Constitution was again amended to permit bingo games conducted by nonprofit associations. In 1967 the Constitution was again amended to regulate raffles, lotteries and gift enterprises for charitable and community betterment purposes. Next in 1988 it was amended to permit simulcasting of horse races.

Who is responsible for licensing legal forms of gambling?

A: The Nebraska Department of Revenue, Charitable Gaming ( maybe contacted for additional information on Bingo games, raffles, lotteries and gift enterprises.

The Nebraska State Racing Commission ( maybe contacted for additional information on horse racing in Nebraska.

Just what is gambling?

A: Gambling has three elements, Consideration, Chance and Reward. Gambling takes place when (Consideration) an individual puts up something of value; i.e., money or property, etc on (Chance) the outcome of an event that is determined by chance, i.e., casino games, rather than the experience or skill of the individual, or the outcome of an event that the individual has no control over the outcome, i.e., football, baseball, basketball games, etc, and (Reward) the individual has the chance of winning something of value.

Is gambling permitted in locations licensed by the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission?

A: Yes, legal forms of gambling such as raffles and lotteries, which is where Pull Tabs/Pickle Cards, Punch Boards, Keno, and Power Ball are found.

What are some of the forms of illegal gambling that have been found in licensed establishments?

A: Wagering or betting on Football or other sporting events. Football, baseball pools, regardless of the dollar amount. Any games or schemes determined by chance which require the patron to pay a fee to enter. Some video games are illegal.

How do I know if a video game is illegal?

A: Most video games are games that require player skill. The player inserts money, normally less than $1.00 in the game and is permitted to play. Skill games last for several minutes and the player plays for a high score. Most illegal video games permit the player to insert $1.00, $5.00, $10.00 or $20.00 at a time, some even accept $50.00 and $100.00 bills to purchase credits. Unlike skill games the player is then permitted to wager multiple credits on the game. Most of these games are casino type games, i.e., slot game or poker games and last for only a few seconds. The player can win hundreds and even thousands of credits which the player can then use to wager on additional games. The Nebraska Supreme Court has determined that credits/points are something of value. Therefore the possession of this type of game is illegal regardless if cash payoffs are made or not.

What can happen if any illegal forms of gambling are found in my licensed establishment?

A: If any evidence of any illegal gambling is found on or about a licensed establishment the owner or manager of the establishment can be cited to appear in county court and if found guilty maybe fined and or even placed in jail. It is also unlawful for any licensee to allow any illegal activities on their licensed premises and if found guilty this would place their liquor license in jeopardy of revocation, cancellation or suspension.

Are Casino Nights legal?

A: Most casino night activities are generally considered illegal gambling. Illegal types of gambling include activities where participants pay to play for the chance of winning something of value in games such as blackjack, dice, roulette or poker. The possession or use of gambling devices used in these activities, such as roulette wheels and slot machines, is illegal.

What about games of skill?

If the activity is a game of skill, then criminal penalties don't apply to the participants. Skill activities might include darts, bowling and pool tournaments. However, “casino nights” do not usually include activities based on the outcome of a player's skill, but rather the luck of the draw or some other chance event.

What about Texas Hold'em tournaments?

A: One of the elements discussed in question three, must be removed. 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.

What other types of tournaments are legal?

A: Most tournaments are legal. If the game or contest is determined by the player's skill, i.e. Darts, Pool, etc., then an entry fee maybe charged and prizes awarded. However if the game or contest is determined by chance, i.e., casino games, etc., then NO entry fee may be charged or no prizes may be awarded. It should be remembered that non-participants can not wager on the outcome.

Where can I find the state laws on gambling?

A: All Nebraska revised statutes can be found on the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature, Laws of Nebraska at their web site Gambling is found in Chapter 28 – Crimes and Punishments, Section 28-1101 thru 1117.