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Nebraska is said by many to prohibit all forms of gambling not authorized by law. This is the case in many states, where there are laws prohibiting gambling generally and then they may have provisions which authorize or regulate certain forms of gambling which are exempt from the prevailing general prohibitions.
If you look at the section on the official Nebraska state website, in a FAQ section on the legality of gambling in Nebraska, this is exactly the view that is expressed, that only certain forms of gambling are legal, and those are the ones set forth in the law as allowable. (1)
So it’s not difficult to see how some people may think that it is illegal to gamble in Nebraska outside these specific provisions, such as betting at a licensed establishment or playing the lottery.
However, as we will see as we take a close look at the law, things are not always as they appear.
Nebraska does have a specific definition of gambling and let’s start by having a look at that:
“A person engages in gambling if he or she bets something of value upon the outcome of a future event, which outcome is determined by an element of chance, or upon the outcome of a game, contest, or election, or conducts or participates in any bingo, lottery by the sale of pickle cards, lottery, raffle, gift enterprise, or other scheme not authorized or conducted in accordance with the Nebraska Bingo Act, the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act, the Nebraska Lottery and Raffle Act, the Nebraska Pickle Lottery Act, the Nebraska Small Lottery and Raffle Act, the State Lottery act, or section 9-701…” (2)
The section goes on to specify more exemptions, but wagering on the game of poker is definitely included in the definition of gambling in Nebraska.
Does This Mean Gambling Is Illegal In Nebraska?
Just because something is determined to be gambling doesn’t mean that it is illegal, and we require a law stating that gambling is illegal, or certain forms are, for that to be the case.
So is gambling illegal in Nebraska? Perhaps surprisingly, there are no prohibitions against gambling itself in Nebraska. So why do they bother to define it? Well it does need to be defined to determine whether the actual prohibitions against gambling would apply to a given situation.
Here are the actual prohibitions against gambling under Nebraska Law:
28.1102, Promoting gambling, first degree
28.1103, Promoting gambling, second degree
28.1104, Promoting gambling, third degree
28.1105, Possession of gambling records
28.1105.01, Gambling debt collection
28.1107, Possession of a gambling device (3)
Do any of these apply to gambling itself? Well for the first 3, “a person advances gambling activity if, acting other than a player, he or she engages in conduct that materially aids any form of gambling activity.” (4) So that doesn’t apply to players.
What about possession of gambling records? The law states that “a person commit’s the offense of possession of gambling records if, other than as a player, he or she knowingly possesses any writing, paper, instrument, or article…” (5)
Once again, this reads other than as a player, so it doesn’t apply to players either, obviously.
What about gambling debt collection? Well this can apply to players, providing “he or she provides any force or intimidation in order to collect any debt which results from gambling…” (6) This doesn’t address the act of gambling at all either.
Finally, we have the crime of possession of a gambling device. In order for a device to be classified as a gambling device, it would have to be a device whose sole or main purpose would be to be used for gambling purposes. A computer or a deck of cards would not be considered gambling devices because they have other uses, you can use cards for non gambling purposes, and you can certainly use computers for non gambling purposes.
Since this law simply addresses the possession of such a device, it could not be successfully argued that, for instance, since computers can be used for gambling, everyone who possesses a computer is guilty of possessing a gambling device.
Playing Poker In Nebraska
So playing poker for money or any other form of gambling isn’t against the law at all in Nebraska, however promoting gambling clearly is. What about home games? Well promoting gambling involves making a profit from the game, so as long as it just consisted of players, as these games generally do, then that wouldn’t qualify as promoting gambling.
As far as playing online goes, well once again the mere act of acting as a player in a gambling situation isn’t prohibited by law, so this would include all forms of gambling in Nebraska including playing poker for money on the internet. While the law in some states is somewhat unclear, there is no reading of the law in Nebraska that would even suggest this would be in any way against the law.
Nebraska also has regulated poker, although there is only a single poker room in the state, the Rosebud Casino in Valentine, with 3 tables. (7).
Players are able to access all of the online poker sites outside state jurisdiction who offer poker play to its residents, who would be in violation of Nebraska law if they were located in Nebraska, which they are not, they are located in other countries in fact. These poker rooms do restrict players in several states, but none have any issues with accepting players from Nebraska.
Among these offshore poker sites are our top 2 recommendations for players from Nebraska, which are Ignition Poker (<< review) and Americas Cardroom (<< review). Both of these poker rooms are very well established and have been successfully offering great online poker to residents from Nebraska and other select U.S. states for a number of years now.
So if you haven’t tried out one or both of these, feel free to check out our reviews of them by clicking on our links and finding out more.
(7) Rosebud Casino