Debate over Nebraska Casino Expansion Heats Up Again

Nebraska’s Casino Expansion Faces Delay Amid Study Results

The expansion of casinos in Nebraska has hit a roadblock following a recent decision by the state’s gambling regulator. Years ago, residents voted in favor of introducing casino gambling in the state, leading to the recognition of six racetrack licensees in Lincoln, South Sioux City, Grand Island, Omaha, Columbus, and Hastings. However, the proposal to open casinos in Kimball, Norfolk, York, North Platte, Bellevue, and Fremont is facing potential delays.

A recent study suggested that the current number of racetracks in the state is adequate, and there is no need for new racing licenses. In response to this finding, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission voted unanimously to determine whether the study should be used or if another study should be conducted.

Dennis Lee, the chairman of the Commission, expressed concerns about the completeness of the study, stating that there is insufficient data to make informed decisions about expanding gambling in the state. He emphasized the importance of having comprehensive data to guide the expansion of current racetracks beyond the existing facilities.

The study, prepared by The Innovation Group, indicated that the current number of racing licenses in the state is sufficient and has “more than sufficient capacity” to support market growth. However, some officials criticized the study, claiming that it did not present a complete picture of the impact of new casinos and racetracks on the existing market due to limited racing dates. They also alleged that The Innovation Group did not reach out to racetracks for data that could have been used in the study.

The state’s laws require market research to be conducted on the impact of new horse racetracks and casinos on the existing market before approving such projects. If a new project is expected to significantly impact the operations of existing racetracks and casinos, it cannot be approved.

The debate over the expansion of casinos in Nebraska is ongoing, with the Commission seeking to gather more comprehensive data to make informed decisions about the future of gambling in the state.