Gambling Initiatives in Nebraska Likely Excluded from November Ballot

Issues with the language were found in the gambling initiatives in Nebraska by the office of the Secretary of State. The described issues may result in the petitions not being a part of the ballot in November.

Secretary of State in Nebraska Outlines Issues with the Language of the Gambling Petitions

The Secretary of State in Nebraska announced yesterday that the gambling petitions may not make it to November’s ballot. Secretary of State Robert B. Evnen’s office found issues with the language of the initiatives. This effectively may result in them not being a part of the ballot. The three gambling petitions if allowed and approved would legalize casino gambling expansion and also create the necessary laws needed for tax regulation.

According to Evnen, the gambling petitions have a similar major purpose which is to allow gambling expansion in the state at both horse tracks and on tribal lands. The Secretary of State also outlined that the voters need to be completely aware of their choice and what the result will be. He added: “Part of the protection of the right of initiative is to assure that such petitions are neither misleading nor manipulative.”

Besides the issues with the language of the gambling petitions, Evnen also revealed that his office received legal complaints from three people from Nebraska. The written complaints point out issues about the language being vague when it comes to expanding gambling in the state, similar to what the Secretary of State outlined.

Gambling Expansion Supporters Say It Will Bring New Work Places and Tax Revenue

The complaints, however, got the attention of Ho-Chunk’s Inc.’s president and CEO, Lance Morgan who is a supporter of the changes. Morgan pointed out that the languages of the gambling initiatives have been out since last year. He added: “The delay in responding makes me concerned that this is designed to thwart the will of the people.

The executive vice president of the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Lynne McNally who supports the gambling petitions also commented on the subject. She said more than 475,000 signatures were obtained by the group, supporting the changes.

McNally also stressed: “The secretary of state specifically is denying Nebraskans their constitutional right to make a decision on this issue.” With that in mind, some 4,500 new jobs would be created if the gambling expansion is approved, according to prognoses by supporters of the change. Furthermore, approximately $300 million per year can be expected as gambling revenue, which will undoubtedly boost the state’s coffers with tax revenue.

Nebraska’s Governor Pete Ricketts Opposes the Expand of Gambling

But not everyone in Nebraska supports the gambling expansion. Governor Pete Ricketts is on the opposing side. According to him, the fresh tax revenue is not worth given that gambling brings harm in the form of bankruptcies, destroying families and relationships. Earlier this month, the Governor posted a column on that topic titled “Gambling with Nebraska: A Losing Bet“.

By keeping Nebraska casino-free, our state has minimized the social harms associated with problem gambling,” wrote Governor Ricketts in his column. More recently, Ricketts also expressed support on Evnen’s statement about the necessary clarity of the texts in the gambling initiatives.

The executive director of Gambling With the Good Life, Pat Loontjer also expressed support for Evnen. She outlined that the gambling proposals may lead to “unlimited casino gambling all over the state“. According to Loontjer, such change would have been devastating to local businesses and families.

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