Nebraska Lawmakers Revisit Skill Games Regulations after Surge in Popularity

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A rapid increase in the popularity of “skill games” has caused Nebraska’s state legislators to review the regulation and taxation of the machines.

The games, which look like traditional slot machines, are now found in numerous convenience stores and bars across the state. There are now 4,752 of them available in close to 1,600 retail locations, up by 1,113 since the start of the year. Furthermore, approximately 900 additional machines have been granted state permits but are yet to be installed.

Rapid Spread Leads to Concerns

This fast proliferation has caused concerns amongst problem gambling experts, lawmakers, and land-based casinos. For example, Lance Morgan, President and CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., which operates the WarHorse Casino in Lincoln, has said that he is astonished at how quickly the games have spread.

Morgan believes that the machines put casinos at a disadvantage. Where slot machines require an expensive license, the skill games machines require a state sticker that costs just $250.

State Senator John Lowe of Kearney, who is chair of the General Affairs Committee, has questioned whether the games have created a new industry and he has called for a public hearing at the State Capitol to examine concerns raised about skill games.

Fears of Underage Addiction

While skill games do require an element of skill, many argue that they are as addictive as traditional slot machines. Furthermore, there have been concerns raised that young people are able to play the games as they are often located in public areas where age verification is not enforced.

Earlier this year, Albion Senator Tom Briese introduced a bill that was designed to increase regulation and taxation on skill games. However, the bill did not advance and no progress was made. At the same time, others, such as Morgan, are calling for increased regulation through the State Racing and Gaming Commission.

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