Nebraska does not permit any games of chance to operate in the state but there has been an on-going campaign by a group called ‘Keep the Money in Nebraska’ to push for new gaming laws that will allow brick & mortar casinos and poker rooms to operate in the state. Nebraska does permit the lottery, horse racing and Keno but does not allow video gaming machines.
The group as its name suggests does not want the state to continue to lose a significant amount of gambling revenue to neighbouring states as gamblers from Nebraska have had no other alternative but to cross state borders and visit neighbouring casinos. Back in 2015, State Senator Tyson Larson pushed legislators to allow certain variants of poker to be allowed in clubs and bars but his proposal did not get very far but it was thrown out.
However ‘Keep the Money in Nebraska’ have continued its efforts to push for the legalization of gambling and it appears that that legislators might finally pay serious attention to the possibility of legalizing gambling in the state. The group has collected 130,000 signatures to push for an amendment that will allow gambling and an additional 90,000 signatures for two more petitions concerning casino regulation and how casino tax revenue should be distributed.
To push the constitutional amendment on the ballot, the group needed to get 10 percent of the registered voters in the state to sign the petition. This meant that around 114,000 signatures were mandatory and the group has succeeded in getting a lot more than the required numbers. A recent survey conducted in the state shows that around 53 percent of those surveyed in Nebraska want gambling to be permitted.
Scott Lautenbaugh, a former senator and now spokesman for ‘Keep the Money in Nebraska’ stated that the group now had a total of 310,000 signatures and would continue to push for a ballot in November 2016. In a statement, Lautenbaugh said “It was much more difficult because we had to explain three petitions and ask voters to wait around and sign three petitions. We’re very happy with the results.”
The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska which owns Ho-Chunk Inc is the biggest financial backer for ‘Keep the Money in Nebraska’ and helped the group to raise around $1.25 million for its campaign. Should legislators make amendments to the state gaming laws, the tribe will look to reopen its Atokad Downs race track which shutdown in 2012 and develop a casino on the property.