Will Nebraska Voters Get to Pass Casinos in 2020?
Will Nebraska Voters Get to Pass Casinos in 2020? Ballot measure is in petition stage, with considerable backing. In Nebraska, the atmosphere may finally be right for the commercial casino industry. And if the proponents of a ballot measure get their way, the state could approve legalized casinos in Nebraska for the first time as early as 2020.
And if that happens, depending on what other ballot measures may be on tap, the number of states allowing casinos may become the majority for the first time.
How Will Nebraska Voters Get to Pass Casinos in 2020?
It’s a difficult thing for some of the state’s business leaders to see that there is a casino just across the river from Omaha, bringing customers over in droves to Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is the site of the Ameristar Casino.
Lance Morgan, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Ho-Chunk, Inc., the company that is backing a petition drive to put casinos on the ballot, notes that there are millions of dollars every year going to one state when they could be spent in another. “For a Nebraskan to do gaming, you have to go half a mile. It’s the height of paternalism to try to restrict it.”
Ho-Chunk is a development corporation that is operated by the Nebraska-based Winnebago Tribe. There are indeed tribal casinos that are allowed in Nebraska, but there are no slots, and the only table game that is allowed is poker, in which players compete against each other, not the house.
Other Forms Of Gambling That Are Permissible In Nebraska?
But there are other forms of gambling that are permissible in Nebraska, including horse racing, keno games and a lottery. If a measure passes to allow for the launch of full-blown commercial casinos in Nebraska, residents will be able to play baccarat, craps, roulette, video slots, classic slot machines, and other casino games.
At the moment, there are only two states in the country that do not permit any kind of gambling – Hawaii and Utah. And twenty-five states have legalized casinos. And Nebraska is more or less surrounded, as Iowa, Kansas , Missouri, South Dakota and Colorado all have casinos.
The petition is a joint venture between Ho-Chunk and the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Association (HBPA), and it prescribes that the casino licenses would be issued to those pari-mutuel establishments that already hold a state gaming license.
Online Sports Betting?
They had previously allowed for the possibility that sports betting, which is a reality in several states and is primed for expansion to many more, could be among the offerings. But they have tabled that for some later time.
The general consensus was that there was fear about sports betting possibly complicating things for the petition drive. And they need for this particular measure to work. There was enough effective opposition from anti-casino interests to defeat a gambling referendum in 2004 and 2006, and then another measure was ruled unconstitutional by the Nebraska Supreme Court in 2014.
In 2016 something rather bizarre took place with the pro-casino forces. They had made a $1.29 million deal with a company called Northstar Campaign Systems to collect signatures for ballot access. The theme was “Keep the Money in Nebraska.” And although they were assured they had gotten the required 113,900 signatures and then some, they had over 40,000 rejected. Ho-Chunk is now in litigation with Northstar over it.
Naturally, with the HBPA behind this, the objective is to bring further revenue into the racetracks. Assurances have come from Bob Moser, the group’s president, that if casinos passed, they would revive the pari-mutuel industry, increasing purse sizes and bringing better racing to Nebraska.
But such a rationale hasn’t worked everywhere. Calder Casino in Miami, which used to be known as Calder Race Course, has gained a Jai-Alai permit, and there is currently much dispute as to whether they should eventually be able to tie that permit to its casino license as it attempts to get out from under the financial commitment they have been making to horse racing, which has not brought sufficient return.
Previous News Article: