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Melanie Porter January 20, 2021 3 min read
Nebraska Senator Backs Voters on Race Track Casinos with Pair of Bills
Senator Tom Briese of Albion, Nebraska has pitched two new legislative bills that outline the possible rollout of sports betting at casino racetracks in the state.
Sen. Briese All out for Legalized Sports Betting in Nebraska
Nebraska Senator Tom Briese of Albion is looking to speed up the implementation of gambling in the state, following a vote by residents last fall that approved the introduction of the regulated gambling market in what is still a conservative state by and large.
Briese is just as keen as business owners to see tax revenue from horse race tracks and casinos start contributing to the state’s ailing finances, with the bulk of possibly-to-be-generated revenue going directly to property tax relief.
Citing the will of the power and the referendum results in November, Briese said that it was essential for legislators to come together and establish a framework that works. Thanks to legislative bills 560 and 561, this may actually happen.
Bill 560 seeks to legalize sports betting as well as race betting on tracks. People who wish to bet would have to be physically present in the authorized facility, referring to casinos, and not be able to use credit cards to gamble with.
Should the bill pass, it would come with mandatory identity and origin of the money verification process to ensure that the industry stays safe to consumers. Similarly, gaming operators will have to undergo stringent background checks and comply with regulatory norms established to guarantee tax collection.
On the other hand, Bill 561 would want to see the State Racing Commission and Nebraska Gaming Commission merge into a single entity, the State Racing and Gaming Commission, and bring their remits under the same roof.
Basically, Briese wants to see a single entity regulate the industry and be in charge of issuing and approving licenses, resolving conflicts and if the need is, stripping operators from licensing rights. Should the bill pass, it would also change the current betting age on horse races to 21, which is in line with what most of the country agrees to.
Briese Sticks to Protocol But Doesn’t Want Delays
According to Briese, the pair of bills must be voted on and implemented as soon as possible, citing the urgency of depleting revenues as the reason why. Slowing the legalization process down would bring out gambling opponents who can throw another spanner in the works, fears the senator.
Yet, he enjoys some broad support from key figures in Nebraska’s political life and not least, Gov. Pete Ricketts and Attorney General Doug Peterson. Regulators also seem to be on board with the suggestion, and they agree that criminal penalties apply to parties trying to run illegal sports gambling operations on the territory of the state.
According to Racing Commission head Tom Sage, merging the two regulators would allow the state to trim down on staff and avoid duplication of duties which is only going to cost excessive tax dollar.
Race track casinos may soon be a reality in Nebraska, though, and the legal move spearheaded by Sen. Briese certainly has a role to play. Not least, he found a lot of support for Legislative Bill 365 which was submitted last year, which is considered one of the main engines of potential casino racetrack launch in the state.