Nebraska’s Casino Bill Goes Forward but Faces Several Challenges

Nebraska’s Casino Bill Goes Forward but Faces Several Challenges

Legislative Bill 876 was advanced by the General Affairs Committee of the Legislature in Nebraska after spending a couple of weeks in a dispute over certain issues. Even though one member did not cast a vote, the bill still ended up being advanced with a 7-0 vote. One of the issues at hand was the number of casinos that are going to be allowed if the bill is approved by voters.

Voting Will Take Place in November

Voting on the bill is scheduled for November and there are two main disputes that need to be resolved. The first one concerns the location of the casinos and the debate is whether they should be located 50 or 150 miles from racetracks.

The second dispute is whether a moratorium should be applied to facilities that are a combination of a casino and a racetrack (racino). The chair of the General Affairs Committee, State Sen. Tom Briese claims that legislators have found a middle ground.

There are some that advocate for new racino locations in North Platte, Ogallala, Bellevue, Gering, and Norfolk, but they will have to do a proper study and determine whether the new racinos at these locations would cause harm to the casinos that already exist in the state.

The Chamber of Commerce of Nebraska did not limit the maximum number of racinos that will be allowed to operate, however, horse racing officials in the state disagree. They think that casinos should only be allowed at the existing racetracks in South Sioux City, Columbus, Omaha, Grand Island, Lincoln, and Hastings.

The disagreements are the reason why Briese called a de facto moratorium. The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission will have to do a detailed analysis on the market statewide and this analysis will play a critical role in deciding whether the Commission should provide licenses or not. According to Briese, the analysis should be done as soon as possible and no later than January 1, 2025.

As the state is getting closer to finding a solution, a 67-page document that contained the legal framework of the casinos was introduced in November 2021 and according to it, casinos would be required to pay $1 million to gain a 20-year permit.

Senator Justin Wayne Did Not Cast a Vote

Sen. Justin Wayne was present, but didn’t cast a vote, but stated that he will not cause any problem during the floor debate of the bill. Additionally, he said that he is fond of the idea of allowing free enterprise to determine the number of racinos that should hit the ground in Nebraska.

Nebraska is trying to make huge progress in the gambling industry. Apart from Legislative Bill 876, a new push to allow lottery tickets to be sold via vending machines has been made. Legislative Bill 1268 was introduced by Senator Eliot Bostar.