Nebraska Casinos and Gambling
The only legal casinos operating in Nebraska are those run by Native American tribes but the state does sponsor other forms of legal gambling. There is a good variety of lottery games plus horse betting and bingo. For number of casinos, the state is tied in 29th place out of the 46 states that allow casinos, but two of the 7 that are counted are actually pari-mutuel facilities, not true casinos.
Nebraska Online Casinos and Online Gambling in Nebraska
Nebraska does not have any laws against online casinos and gambling.
This means that there are a variety of online options open to players in Nebraska. Casino, poker, bingo and sportsbook sites exist that cater to American players who wish to play online.
Nebraska Casino History
Despite only tribal casinos being allowed now, Nebraska actually has a rich history in the gambling world. The state’s largest city, Omaha, was once known as the ‘Gateway to the West’, so named because it was a main point for those traveling west to stock up on supplies before finishing their trek.
Founded in 1854, Omaha was a wide open city, meaning that pretty much anything went. It quickly became a favorite for gamblers of all types, but in particular the hustlers and cardsharps of the day. State law outlawed gaming facilities in the city in 1887, but that didn’t stop the gamblers – they just went underground with their businesses.
The illicit gaming community was taken over by the Italian mafia in the 1930s and the area again became a hot spot for gambling and entertainment through the 1940s. Law enforcement eventually cracked down and got rid of the illegal operations.
Nebraska has been struggling with the gambling issue for the past 30 years as various groups and organizations introduce legislation to relax the laws and allow various forms of legalized gambling. Each time the matter has come to vote, opponents have managed to get the proposed legislation either voted down in the legislature or vetoed by the Governor.
While the state is not among the top destinations for gambling entertainment, the five casinos and various horse-tracks around Nebraska do provide enjoyment for locals and visitors.
Gambling Laws in Nebraska
Oddly enough, according to the Nebraska Gaming Commission, “there are no legal forms of gambling in the State of Nebraska”, but that is due to the state’s definition of gambling. The law says that only the forms that are legally recognized games of chance would be against the law. By their definitions, the Commission states that keno, bingo, lottery games and pickle cards (pull tabs) are all legal as the state does not recognize these as games of chance.
Although the above gambling games are considered legal, they are still tightly regulated. You must have a license to operate or provide any of the games.
One of the major factors in garnering increasing support for relaxing the gambling laws to allow other casino operations besides tribal is the economy. This is a factor for two main reasons. The first is that states and municipalities need to find new sources of revenue and gambling would do that easily. The second is that every state that borders on Nebraska does have legal casino gambling.
Many gambling supporters see potential revenues flowing outside the state borders into the neighboring states. Naturally, they would much rather keep that revenue at home. Casinos would stimulate local economies, according to many experts, and also provide an additional source of revenue for the state. Opponents argue that gambling would also increase crime and poverty.
One of the biggest organizations that vehemently oppose any loosening of the gambling law in Nebraska is the non-profit group Gambling With the Good Life. Since 1995, this group has organized voters against any new legislation that proposes to allow any additional gaming in the state.
Iron Horse Casino – Located in Emerson, the casino features a 2,000 sq. ft. gaming floor, 54 gaming machines and the Iron Horse Bar & Restaurant on site. While not a large facility, there are table games available. The casino is one of two owned and operated by the Winnebago Indian Tribe. Hours are 9 am – 11 pm, S-Th, and 9 am – 1 am on Friday and Saturday. Players must be 21 but families are welcome to enjoy the restaurant.
Ohiya Casino – The largest of the Nebraskan casinos, the Ohiya has a huge 14,000 sq. ft. gaming floor, 190 slot machines and a 100 seat bingo hall. Located in Niobrara, the casino is owned and operated by the Santee Sioux Nation Indian tribe. This is the only casino in the state to also feature meeting space. The Ohiya was the first casino to open in Nebraska and has been operational for over 16 years. Hours are 9 am – midnight, S-Th, and 9 am – 2 am on Friday and Saturday. The bingo hall is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday with warm-up beginning at 6 pm and the actual games starting at 6:30 pm.
Rosebud Casino – The second largest casino in the state is found in Valentine and boasts a 10,500 sq. ft. gaming floor, a 300 seat bingo hall, 250 slot machines, two restaurants and a hotel. Owned and operated by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the casino is near the South Dakota border. Gaming floor hours are Sunday noon – midnight, M-Th 4 pm – 2 am, Friday and Saturday noon – 2 am. The bingo hall opens for early bird games at 5:30 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Lucky 77 Casino – One of two casinos in Nebraska that only offer slot machines, the Lucky 77 has 44 of the machines in a 1,200 sq. ft. gaming floor. There is a snack bar on site for guests. This casino is found in Walthill and was opened in late summer 2005. The Lucky 77 Casino is owned and operated by the Omaha Indian Tribe. Hours are 10 am – 2 am during the week and the casino is open 24 hours on the weekends.
Native Star Casino – The other of the two casinos without table games, this 1,200 sq. ft. facility is located in Winnebago and offers 30 gaming machines. There is on-site dining at the Rock River Grille. Players must be 19 but anyone can enjoy the restaurant. This is the second of two casinos operated in Nebraska by the Winnebago Indian Tribe. Hours are 9 am – 11 pm, S-Th, and 9 am – 1 am on Friday and Saturday.