For decades, Nebraskans rejected the idea of casino gambling in the state. But, three measures on the November ballot aim to change that.
Gambling advocate Lance Morgan believes it's time for Nebraska to embrace change.
"We’re not late to the party, we’ve missed the party," Morgan said. "Iowa has extracted $8.8 billion from the Omaha area alone since the Casino’s opened. We’ve been paying for the party for a very long time
Ballot measures 429, 430 and 431 aim to bring that change by allowing casino gambling at six race tracks.
State lawmakers would regulate it and tax it, with 70% going directly to property tax relief.
"It’s already here," Morgan said. "It’s accessible. We might as well have the jobs, we might as well have the economic activity and we might as well have the tax revenue."
"They get the loot," Pat Loontjer, with Gambling with the Good Life said. "They get the majority of it, they’re going to give a pittance of it to property tax relief when all is said and done. It’s lies, lies, lies."
Opponents like Loontjer believe passing these regulations will attract the wrong crowd.
"Nebraskans like our state," Loontjer said. "They like our good life. They like what we have here, and it’s family oriented and we don’t want it ruined by casinos on every corner or our children being allowed to do sports betting on their phone."
Gov. Pete Ricketts also opposes the proposals, saying any revenue would be overshadowed by other costs.
"Any dollars we collect in tax revenue, for every dollar we’re going to be spending three to combat the social ills that come along with gambling like that sex trafficking, child abuse, spousal abuse, embezzlement," Ricketts said. "We’ll be paying for all those social ills here in Nebraska."
Opponents say the expansion would allow unlimited casino gaming on Native American reservations. Supporters say that's just not true.
"To have it be twisted around to be a secret Indian casino effort, it’s just not true, and it’s a little bit laughable and a little bit I’d say disappointing in 2020," Morgan said.
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