Nebraska doesn’t have any statute that deals directly with online poker. Almost certainly, online poker would fall under the state’s definition of engaging in gambling, as discussed above. If all forms of live poker are illegal in Nebraska, it’s not a bad bet the online poker is illegal too.
However, the usual distinction as to where the online activity occurs – whether it occurs in a player’s home or in the jurisdiction in which the online poker operator’s computer servers are located – could give rise to a valid defense against any prosecution for playing online poker. Not that such a prosecution has ever taken place in Nebraska.
All forms of live poker – casino-based, tribal, and home games – are illegal in Nebraska.
Nebraska’s gambling statute, found at Nebraska State Laws §§28-1101 et seq., are quite restrictive. They define “engaging in gambling” as betting something of value upon a future event determined by an element of chance or upon the outcome of a game. That’s about as broad a definition as exists in the United States and almost certainly covers poker.
The Nebraska gambling statute is not a model of good draftsmanship or clarity. It excepts players from its definitions of “profiting from gambling” and “advancing gambling”, but criminalizes betting of more than $300 in one day as “promoting gambling, second degree” and less than $300 as “promoting gambling, third degree”. Both crimes are misdemeanors and neither seems to contemplate an exception for players. Since poker is not an authorized game under Nebraska law (bingo, keno and lotteries are just about the only permissible forms of gambling), playing live poker in Nebraska is illegal.
Furthermore, there is no home game exception from the definition of gambling in the Nebraska State Laws.
Although the state has seven tribal gaming operations, such operations are similarly restricted to bingo games, keno games and some video gaming machines.
There is currently an effort underway in the Nebraska legislature to redefine poker as a game of skill.