Nebraska voters likely to face commercial Casino Ballot referendum in November 2020

Nebraska voters likely to face commercial Casino Ballot referendum in November 2020

Pushing ahead with their efforts to legalize commercial gambling at Nebraska’s six horse racetracks, pro-casino campaign ‘Keep the Money in Nebraska’ on Thursday submitted three ballot measures to Secretary of State’s office with nearly 475,000 signatures.

The pro-casino campaign known as “Keep the Money in Nebraska” submitted the ballot measures with required number of signatures from state citizens to Secretary of State Robert Evnen’s office. One of the three measures aims to amend the state’s constitution to pave way for legalization of commercial gambling at the state’s half a dozen horse racetracks. The second and third ballot measures seek to set up a gaming commission in the state to regulate gambling and to schedule taxes on slots and table games, respectively.

Lance Morgan, president and chief executive of pro-casino campaign leader Ho-Chunk Inc., expressed hope that the people’s voice would finally be heard. When asked for a comment, Morgan said, “We’re thrilled. We worked super-hard to do this. We’re hoping that the people’s voice gets to be heard.”

Owned and operated by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Ho-Chunk is a development corporation that enjoys the support of the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association. Currently, the state has five tribal casinos, namely Ohiya Casino, Rosebud Casino, native Star casino, Lucky 77 casino and Iron Horse Bar & Casino, which can offer only Class I and II gaming. Thus, the existing gaming facilities don’t offer slot machines and table games.

For placing a measure on ballot in Nebraska, a campaign must obtain valid signatures from at least 10% of all registered voters. For the current year, that is equivalent to roughly 122,000 signatures. The pro-casino campaign claims to have submitted 200,000 valid signatures for the legalization of commercial gambling. The two other measures require signatures from at least 7% of the state’s all registered voters, and that is equal to 85,000 people. The campaign claims that nearly 135,000 signatures have been submitted in support of the two measures. All the three measures are thus expected to be part of ballot referendum in November 2020.

But, not everyone is happy with the ballot measures. The main opposition is coming from a group called “Gambling with the Good Life,” which has successfully kept gambling venues out of the state for more than two decades. On its website, the group quotes billionaire Warren Buffett’s popular comment in which he had said that he didn’t think that the state should sponsor the spread of gambling addiction.

However, the pro-casino campaign argued that Nebraska residents visit neighboring states’ casinos, gambling more than $500 million away every year. They emphasize that legalization of commercial casinos in Nebraska would help keep the money within the boundaries of the Cornhusker State.