Efforts to legalize casino gambling in the state of Nebraska have stalled after a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow casino games to be added to the thoroughbred horse racing tracks of the state failed to qualify for this November’s ballot. Signatures were being gathered to try and see the proposed amendment voted on this fall but a higher than average error rate during the signature collecting efforts has now resulted in the amendment’s failure to make the ballot.
Yesterday, John Gale, the Secretary of State for Nebraska, announced that the amendment fell short of qualifying for addition to the ballot for November. The problem was that the signature campaign resulted in too many signatures that were invalidated as well as signers of the petition who were not registered to vote in the state or individuals who had signed in a county in which they were not registered to vote. Gale was actually stunned at the results.
Around 120,000 signatures were submitted by Keep the Money in Nebraska, a pro-gambling group. Around 35% of this number were rejected due to the issues of invalided signatures or unregistered voters. This is a percentage that is more than double from past drives for petitions.
Because of the high rejection rate, only 77,956 signatures were validated. This means the petition drive fell short of the 117,188 signatures needed to see the amendment up for vote in the fall. There are two other petition initiatives taking place by the Keep the Money in Nevada group, and though these drives need less signatures, rejection rates could cause these efforts to fail as well.
The additional petitions are in regards to the proposal of state laws that will regulate casinos at the state racetracks and have language that lists how tax revenues from the gaming venues would be divided. Even if these proposals make the ballot and voter approved, the laws cannot be implemented until constitutional authorization is made.
Gale stated that he would not say it is highly likely but it does look probably that there will be the same issues with the additional petition drives as with the one involving the errors. Spokesman for Keep the Money in Nebraska, Scott Lautenbaugh, stated he was disappointed in the outcome and could not state why the rejection rate was so high until he is able to receive more information. The group plans on reviewing what took place and decide what steps to take next.
Ho-Chunk Inc., has invested heavily in the campaign, having spent more than $1 million on the petition drive based on recent campaign reports. Head of Ho-Chunk Inc., Lance Morgan, stated that he is asking for information from the company that conducted the signature drive and the group does not plan to give up. Ho-Chunk Inc., is the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s economic development arm.