Nebraska Supreme Court ruled to include the three gambling initiatives in November’s ballot. If accepted, casino gambling will be legalized at horse racing tracks in the Cornhusker State.
The Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Gambling Initiatives
Residents of Nebraska will vote in November on three initiatives which if accepted may legalize casino gambling at horse racing tracks in the state. The news came following a 4-3 ruling of the Supreme Court on Thursday in favor of including the three initiatives to the November 3 ballot. One of the initiatives introduces a constitutional amendment that legalizes casino gambling at horse tracks in Nebraska. The other two focus on regulating and taxation of the industry. If the initiatives are accepted in November, the following racetracks will be able to expand gambling:
- South Sioux City
- Grand Island
Earlier this summer, Keep the Money in Nebraska along with three other groups supporting the initiatives, submitted them along with a list of 475,000 signatures.
But in August, the Secretary of State Robert B. Evnen announced that his office found issues with the language of the initiatives. Evnen’s office found that the gambling petitions may allow gambling expansion in the state at both horse tracks and tribal casinos and refused to add the initiatives to November’s ballot. As a result, supporters of the changes appealed his decision to the Supreme Court. Here, it is important to mention that the Supreme Court in Nebraska rejected a separate initiative, proposing a constitutional amendment for the legalization of medical marijuana.
“We conclude that neither the Constitutional Initiative, nor the Regulatory Initiative, nor the Tax Initiative violates the single subject rule,”wrote Judge Lindsey Miller-Lerman
Nebraska’s Gambling Expansion Remains a Hot Topic
In a statement, Governor Pete Ricketts who opposes the gambling initiatives said: “While I respect the judgment of the Court on the gambling initiatives, I urge Nebraskans to keep gambling out of the Good Life when they head to the polls in November.“
Back in July, in a statement, Pat Loontjer, Executive Director of Gambling with the Good Life argued about the validity of the signatures supporting the gambling changes. Loontjer wrote that a constitutional change “will open the state for unlimited Indian casinos”. Gambling with the Good Life’s attorney David Lopez said that the organization respects the court’s decision. He added that this is the end of the legal battle. “Our obligation now is to inform voters of all its implications,” said Lopez
In contrast, supporters of the petition argued that gambling is already in Nebraska. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Lance Morgan, CEO of the Native American Ho-Chunk tribe said that the “vast majority” of Nebraskans support gambling legalization. He outlined that anyone visiting the casinos in Council Bluffs, Iowa will find many people from Nebraska. “So gaming is here — there’s gaming in every state that touches Nebraska,” added Morgan.
Supporters of the gambling legalization in Nebraska have previously announced that some 4,500 new jobs would be created if the gambling expansion is approved. Besides the workplaces, supporters have previously said that the gambling tax revenue will undoubtedly boost the state’s coffers.