A new bill is under consideration in Nebraska, set to allow casinos in counties where racetracks are licensed for services. The goal of the bill is to bring gaming to the state but avoid a surge of venues. This week, the General Affairs Committee advanced the measure, with the possibility of casinos now one step closer for the state. Key issues were debated for several weeks before the legislation was able to advance.
Details of the Measure
The legislation is set up to allow only six counties to offer casino gaming, with licensing going to existing horseracing facilities. Casinos could eventually be allowed in other areas of the state, but not before a study is conducted.
The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission must first complete a detailed study to review the impact of additional casino gaming in the state. The Commission then has the power to approve or deny licensing based on what the study shows. The study is not due until 2025, so casinos outside of racetracks won’t even be a thought for another few years.
A public vote in November 2020 allowed casino gambling to become a reality in the state, with casinos for the racetracks. Proposed regulations came to fruition this past November. The setup would see the casino operators pay a $1 million fee to get started, with licensing good for a twenty-year time frame.
General Affairs Committee chairman Senator Tom Briese stated that the new bill was created to balance the differences between developers and communities that want to see casinos in the state with those who are opposed and worry that casinos will take over.
In earlier proposals for casino licensing, limits were placed on the number of venues available as well as the distance that must be placed between each location. Briese feels with this legislation that a middle ground has been reached.
The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce would rather there be no cap on the number of casinos on offer. Officials in the horse racing industry of course want to limit the option to the six tracks in Nebraska.
The way the bill stands now, the new casinos would be placed at tracks located in the eastern and central portion of the state. This includes Adams, Dakota, Douglas, Hall, Lancaster, and Platte counties. The measure is now going to the full Legislature for further consideration. We shall see in the coming weeks if the bill is able to move forward or if it gets stuck due to potential issues or concerns by lawmakers.