Sports betting

Place your bets. Just not in Nebraska. Not yet anyway.

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports wagering, allowing states to decide whether to legalize gambling on college and professional sports.

Since then, legislation has been proposed, introduced or passed in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Sports betting was previously only legal in Nevada.

Nebraska is one of nine states, including Alaska, California, Florida, Idaho, North Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, where sports betting is illegal.

An effort in the Nebraska Legislature to allow fantasy sports gambling failed last session. An amendment to a bill on video “skill” games would have legalized and regulated sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel.

Last month, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill to allow sports betting in 19 state-regulated casinos. Iowa will collect 6.75 percent tax on sports-betting revenue. The new law also includes a ban on prop bets involving in-state college teams.

Nebraskans and other out-of-state bettors will be allowed to participate using an app on their mobile phones. However, they would first need to visit a casino in person to establish an account. The app would only work within Iowa's borders.

Once again, Nebraska, which only allows keno, horse racing and a state-run lottery, will lose valuable dollars to the Hawkeye state.

Iowa, which first legalized riverboat casinos in 1991, has continually profited off of Nebraska. Visit the four casinos in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area and you'll see numerous cars with Nebraska license plates on a regular basis.

It's not just here. Every state around Nebraska allows casinos, so those much-needed dollars to fund schools and other programs are crossing the borders to Colorado, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Missouri and Minnesota.

If state lawmakers aren't yet ready to go all in with casinos, they should at least consider sports betting.

If lawmakers don't want to make the decision, put it to the vote of the people. Arkansas legalized sports betting through a voter referendum in November.

Nebraska is already behind. It's time for the state to play the odds and make a bet for its future.

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