Nebraska’s June Gaming Revenues Released, Includes Nine Days of Sports Betting
Nebraska’s state coffers have not yet benefited much from newly launched retail sports betting.
Those numbers were boosted by just nine days of betting at a single Nebraska sportsbook venue, at The Warhorse Lincoln Casino (pictured). The Warhorse opened the first sportsbook venue in the Cornhusker State on the June 22, some two years after Nebraska first legalized the market in June 2021.
Despite the overall rise in tax revenue collected from the state’s racetrack casinos in June compared to May, the WarHorse Casino in Lincoln and the Grand Island Casino and Resort reported a decrease in gross proceeds for the month.
However, the regulator cautioned against reading too much into these numbers at such an early stage in the market.
“In my view, kind of a real solid point of analysis is halfway through the college and pro football season,” NGRC Chairman Denny Lee told The Grand Island Independent.
The Numbers in Detail
The NGRC reported that the state and local entities received $1.36 million in total gambling taxes in June.
This figure is a 5.4% increase from the $1.29 million collected in May. But it’s still lower than the figures for March ($1.55 million) and April ($1.39 million). For the first half of 2023, Nebraska has collected nearly $8.2 million in gambling taxes.
Despite the addition of sports wagering, monthly gross proceeds at WarHorse Casino dropped from $4.15 million in May to $3.82 million in June.
Its total gaming tax revenue dropped by 8% from May, receiving $764,039 in June.
Grand Island Casino & Resort also experienced a decrease, with taxes collected amounting to $414,337, a nearly 10% monthly decrease from May.
The recently opened Harrah’s Nebraska, a temporary gaming facility at Platte County Ag Society Park run by Caesars Entertainment, made gross revenues of $895,320 in June. That translated into a little more than $179,000 in taxes for the state.
The temporary venue will operate until mid-2024, when the permanent $75 million Harrah’s Columbus Casino & Resort opens.
Nebraska taxes sportsbooks a flat 20% on gross revenues for the month.
Future Potential There
Industry insiders attribute the modest results to the slow time of year for sports betting in general, and the availability of a single venue with some restrictions on its offerings.
They expect football betting to pick up the slack when the season starts in September, by which time there should be more retail sportsbook options available throughout the state.
“When you think of sports betting, you normally think of football,” said Lynne McNally, chief executive officer of trade group The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
“So I would anticipate that as football season comes on, we’re going to see a surge in revenue at that time.”
Plans are also underway to start sports betting at the WarHorse racetrack casino under construction in Omaha, which would make betting more convenient for Omahans than driving to Lincoln.
Then there’s also the Grand Island Casino Resort in Grand Island, which is looking to launch its own retail sportsbook in time for the NFL season.
“Our goal is to get sports wagering up and running about that third week of August,” said casino general manager Vince Fiala, speaking to local media.