April 2, 2021 Casino, Land-Based

Nebraksa nearing toward building racinos

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Building casinos at horse racing facilities could revive declining industry

As Nebraska continues its slow path toward legalized gambling, racetracks continue to be the most-discussed option.

In the 2020 General Election, voters in the Cornhusker State overwhelmingly approved three bills that collectively allow for casinos to be opened at horse racing facilities.

Nebraska currently has six racetracks in operation.

This week’s meeting of the Nebraska Racing Commission featured a give-and-take of opposing viewpoints as to how the next steps will look, and what type of impact various options will have on those existing tracks.

According to one theory, if a track builds a casino it will attract more visitors, which will be good for the track’s business – especially if the state eventually legalizes sports betting at these racinos.

On the other hand, some argued that the establishment of casinos at tracks will hurt the gate at any track that does not build a casino.

Still another line of thought involved the potential for operators building new racetracks simply to have the option to open a casino on the site – which, in turn, would draw people away from existing tracks.

The Nebraska state legislature recently approved a bill that will create the framework for casino gambling. Lawmakers project as much as $91m in revenue by fiscal year 2022-23. Per the bills passed by voters in November, approximately $64m of that amount would go toward property tax relief.

According to local media reports, the Winnebago Tribe's Ho-Chunk Inc., will be part of a group that will operate casinos at three of the existing tracks.

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