Nebraska Legislators Reject Bill To Delay Casino Study

Written By Derek Helling on March 3, 2023
delay bill nebraska casinos expansion plans

A bill that could have delayed a deadline for a legislative study on Nebraska casinos has met its end. While that could lead to the expansion of gambling in the Cornhusker State happening on a shorter timeline, there are no guarantees of what will remain a complicated process.

For the time being, the legislature is set to commence such research in time to meet a 2025 deadline. However, the sponsor of the bill to prolong that deadline has not admitted defeat on the matter.

Study on Nebraska casinos could commence shortly

In Nebraska, work is ongoing to convert the state’s six existing horse racing tracks into “racinos.” Such facilities not only offer live and simulcast horse racing but poker, slots, table games, and eventually in-person wagering on sports.

Two such tracks already have limited casino gaming available in temporary accommodations. Those are the WarHorse in Lincoln and Fonner Park in Grand Island. Work continues at those sites and the other four tracks on the permanent gaming spaces.

Other cities and counties in the state would like to at least explore the possibility of offering gambling as well. Toward that possible end, the Nebraska legislature has commissioned a study to assess the impact of expanded gaming. The deadline for the submission of that report is Jan. 1, 2025.

However, work on that study has not yet begun. That’s part of the reason why Nebraska Sen. John Lowe wanted to extend that deadline.

Lowe’s bill proves short-lived

In January, Lowe filed LB311, which would have added another four years to that January 2025 deadline. According to Paul Hammel of the Nebraska Examiner, Lowe expressed doubts about whether the existing deadline would allow enough time for the study to be of any real value.

The existing racinos do not plan to open their permanent facilities until 2024 at the earliest. Therefore, any report submitted in time to meet the January 2025 date would include at best a few months of performance data from one or two of the racinos at most.

Hammel reports that despite that argument, the Nebraska Senate’s General Affairs Committee voted down Lowe’s bill last Friday. However, Lowe said he would work on gathering support for the bill in the 2024 session.

Thus, this debate could surface again next year. For now, though, it seems the legislature needs to get to work on the matter soon to meet the existing deadline.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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