Legal Nebraska Poker

A Guide to Poker in the State of Nebraska

Nebraska Gambling Laws

In this guide to poker in Nebraska you can first find a brief overview of gambling in the State. Next the question of poker’s legality is answered, with references to the Statutes. Following this you can find out the limited opportunities for playing live poker along with how the online game is regarded.

A Brief Overview of Nebraskan Gambling

From the 1800s, where all forms of gambling were popular, through to the 1970s there were many ties between the underground casinos in Nebraska and organized crime. As such the Nebraska was unwilling to make traditional casino gambling and poker legal in the State.

Currently the only forms of licensed gambling here are the pari-mutuel betting you can find at the racetracks and in the three tribal casinos, which just operate slots. Despite the success of ‘racinos’ in other States which have added card rooms and casino games to racetracks, there is strong opposition to casinos from the horse racing industry in Nebraska. 

Is Poker Legal in Nebraska?

Section 28-1101(4) of Nebraska’s Statutes defines gambling as happening when someone:

“…bets something of value upon the outcome of a future event, which outcome is determined by an element of chance,”

It would be hard to deny that poker falls within this category because while skill will dominate in the long run, any hand can be influenced by chance. As there are no venues that can offer regulated poker this therefore makes the activity illegal when it is played for money.

Unusually, Nebraska also makes it illegal for its residents to gamble outside of the State.

Section 29-1110 states:

“It shall be no defense to a prosecution under any provision of this article relating to gambling that the gambling is conducted outside this state and is not in violation of the laws of the jurisdiction in which it is conducted…”

This law could apply to both travelling live players and online players with servers located elsewhere, although there are no records of this law being used in any prosecution.

Live Poker Options in Nebraska

With no casinos being allowed to offer table games or poker in Nebraska, there are no card rooms available for players to enjoy games. The only legitimate form of poker competition is in the free to enter bar leagues. Despite not charging to enter these games do offer prizes. These are normally provided by the establishment where the games run, as they benefit from extra sales.

As home game players generally play for real money they are also technically illegal, with no exceptions being made in the law for social games. This means that any game could be targeted by the police. It appears that authorities here focus their attention on the larger underground games, which are normally run as a business with the organizers taking a cut in either rake or fees.

How Nebraska Deals with Online Poker

There is no part of Nebraska’s Statutes that specifically mention online poker or any type of internet gambling. Instead it is assumed the existing laws already cover this activity. While this may be true it has yet to be tested in a court of law, with no one yet being arrested for playing online.

With no enforcement many residents in Nebraska enjoy playing on offshore sites which continue to provide games to US citizens. These companies operate legally in their home countries. They are mostly based in the Caribbean islands and argue their right to provide games to US players through international free-trade treaties. Despite the passing of UIEGA in 2006 preventing financial transactions to these sites, many offer players a wide choice of poker options and carry on operating.

In Summary – Nebraska Poker

As casino and poker games are restricted in Nebraska there is little opportunity for players enjoy anything other than free bar games without risk breaking the law. Thankfully Council Bluffs is only a short journey across the border into Iowa.

Online poker is essentially illegal by default, as no new laws address internet gambling directly. Residents in this State still have the ability to play on offshore sites and while these may operate in a legal grey area, no one has yet been arrested for playing on them.