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Nebraska Charitable Gaming

Nebraska allows gaming for charitable purposes, which includes bingo, pickle cards (pull-tabs), raffles and lotteries. Local municipalities, such as counties, cities and towns, are also authorized to operate keno, called "local option lotteries." Each of these gaming activities has been legalized at different times since 1958.

Nebraska Laws of 1986 (LB1027) established the Nebraska Charitable Gaming Division (NCCD), which is tasked with licensing and regulating all state charitable gaming activities and organizations. State funds are not used to regulate charitable gaming. The NCGD is self-sustaining, using a portion of licensing fees and gaming taxes imposed on charitable organizations. Of these funds, 40% is distributed to the NCGD Operations Fund; $50,000 is transferred to the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund, if funds are available; and the remaining 60% is given to the state's general fund. Licensed charitable organizations are required to pay Nebraska sales tax for equipment and supplies purchased, unless specifically exempted from doing so.

In 1958, bingo was legalized for charitable purposes. It wasn't until 1978 that LB351 was passed, establishing the Nebraska Bingo Act, which specified the rules and regulations for operating charitable bingo in the state. Fundamentally, if a fee is charged to play bingo, or prizes are awarded over $25 in value, a bingo license is required.

There are two additional licenses offered for bingo: a Limited Period Bingo license and a Special Permit.

Limited Period Bingo is a bingo event authorized in addition to regularly scheduled bingo events. Both Class I and Class II bingo licensees may request a limited period bingo authorization, but may not apply for more than four permits in one year totaling more than 12 days. Bingo prizes awarded at a limited period bingo event are subject to the same limitations as a regular bingo event, except that the value of a single prize awarded cannot exceed $25 in value and the aggregate value of all bingo prizes awarded cannot exceed $4,000 each day of the limited period.

Special event bingo is a bingo game conducted as part of another event (for example, a festival or church bazaar). Class I and Class II bingo licensees are not eligible to apply for a special event bingo permit.

In 1968, legislators passed a constitutional amendment that authorized lotteries and raffles designating proceeds for charitable purposes. In 1977, Nebraska was the first state to allow local municipalities to hold lotteries (local option lottery) as a way of raising funds for community projects with the passing of LB38. A local option lottery must be approved by voters of the local community before it can be adopted. These laws were amended in 1995 (LB344), allowing lotteries to be held within a licensed racetrack facility within the zoning jurisdiction of the local municipality.

Nebraska Laws of 1989 (LB767) amended the definition of lottery to restrict a lottery to ticket drawings, scratch-off tickets or keno. Then, in 1991, Nebraska Laws (LB849) banned scratch-off tickets as an authorized "local option lottery" for municipalities. Nebraska Laws of 1993 (LB563) prohibited the extension of credit to charitable gaming players.

In 2002, Nebraska Laws (LB545) increased the number of consecutive years a (local option) lottery game may be inactive before requiring another referendum vote from four to 10 years.

The Nebraska County and City Lottery Act (Local Act) provides for two types of lotteries: a traditional lottery and keno, a lottery-like game. The NCGD requires that local municipalities wishing to hold keno lottery games must be issued a license and must pay a 2% tax on their annual keno/lottery gross proceeds. The license has an application fee of $100 and is valid for two years. Renewal of this license is on 31 May of even-numbered years. Only one type of lottery is authorized to be run by the local municipality at one time. A change to the lottery type or scheme requires pre-approval from the NCGD.

In 1984, Nebraska Laws (LB744) prohibited local lotteries from using mechanical, computer, electronic or video gaming devices during keno lottery operation.

In November 1985, Bellevue held the first keno lottery in the state.

In 1991, Nebraska Laws (LB795) banned "Instant Keno" devices for keno lottery operation.

In 2010, Nebraska Laws (LB861) amended the Local Act to allow keno to be played after 1 a.m. as long as the local municipality also voted to serve alcohol until 2 a.m.

In 2011, Nebraska Laws (LB490) amended the Local Act, allowing players access to keno equipment for purposes of selecting numbers before the start of a game.
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