Whether a measure before the Unicameral would expand gambling in Nebraska or enforce regulations on gambling is being debated in the legislature.
A filibuster has held up a vote on LB 970, which is a combination of three bills. A vote on whether to end the filibuster and go to a vote could come Monday morning.
The revised measure would affect pickle cards and keno as well as regulate fantasy sports.
Legislative debate Friday centered on fantasy sports.
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, rejected claims by supporters that the bill is more regulation of fantasy sports than expansion of gambling.
“This is not a game of skill. It is gambling, pure and simple, and the purpose is to take the place of certain types of poker activity that was available,” Chambers asserted.
Yet, Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala insisted the protections in the bill are real.
“If you’re an anti-gambling person, this bill is the kind of stuff you want to pass rather than just saying let’s get rid of it all,” Schilz said. “Because, folks, if we do nothing today, literally, it changes nothing.”
It is estimated 300,000 Nebraskans participate in fantasy sports through sites such as Fan Duel and Draft Kings. Supporters argue that will continue whether the legislature acts or not. They insist it would be better for the state to regulate the industry.
Under the bill, fantasy sports sites would have to register with the state and pay a fee of $50,000. Renewal would cost $10,000. Registered sites would be required to abide by certain rules, such as making sure players are at least 18 years old.
The sponsor of the measure, Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill, told colleagues it would regulate an industry now unregulated in Nebraska.
“Colleagues, across the country people see this as consumer protection,” according to Larson. “Yet, here in Nebraska, our heads are so deep in the sand trying to protect ourselves from gaming, you’re going to let companies take advantage of other Nebraskans.”
Still, opponents, such as Sen. David Schnoor of Scribner, see it more as expanding gambling than regulating gambling.
“We can call this whatever we want, but the facts are the facts. We can’t allow stuff like this to happen,” Schnoor said. “The consumer protection is making sure that this doesn’t go through.”