A few years back, Nebraska residents voted in favor of a ballot initiative that connected the state’s racetracks to casino development. The approved initiative required gambling companies interested in developing and operating casinos in the state to secure approval for a racetrack. This made the development of casinos easier for the state’s existing racetrack licensees, of which there are currently six.
According to the Fremont Tribune, a new study prepared by The Innovation Group of New Orleans for Nebraska’s gambling regulator, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission, suggested that there is no need for new racing licenses. The report highlighted that the existing racetrack license holders have “more than sufficient capacity” to triple or even quadruple the racing sector across the state. The report stated, “The data do not support the addition of more racing licenses.”
The findings of the report could pose an obstacle for casino developers interested in entering Nebraska, while giving the state’s six existing racing license holders a slight advantage. In order to ensure a fair and competitive market, Nebraska has established robust rules for the racing and casino sector.
Under the state’s existing laws, the gambling regulator is required to assess the potential impact of new horse racetracks and casinos prior to rejecting or approving submitted proposals. The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission must consider the impact new racetracks and casinos would have on the existing market. If a proposal may be “detrimental” to the established racetracks and casinos, it must be denied. Such decisions need to be based on studies.
There are currently six racetracks in the state that are suitable for a casino license, including venues in Grand Island, Lincoln, South Sioux City, Omaha, Hastings, and Columbus. The WarHorse Casino in Lincoln was the first brick-and-mortar casino to open its doors for visitors.
The recent report explored the potential impact a proposed casino and racetrack in Bellevue may have on the state’s market. While such a venue would help raise Nebraska’s gambling revenue, it may also impact the revenue of the existing racetracks.
The next meeting of the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission is scheduled for January 19. Denny Lee, the Commission’s chairman, confirmed that he is yet to review the report. The chairman explained that the study’s results will likely be discussed during the upcoming meeting of the Commission and the report is not final and may undergo changes.