Nebraska Casino Gaming Finally Moving Forward
Casino regulations have finally been drafted in Nebraska, helping the industry to move forward with starting services.
About a year after voters in the state of Nebraska approved casino gambling, it seems the process is finally moving forward. Residents voted in favor of horse race tracks offering services and the gaming license steps seem to be close at hand. Nebraska Racing & Gaming Commission executive director Tom Sage said this week that the final draft of casino regulations will be released by the 12th of this month.
According to Sage, the Commission members were working on the rules for several months. The rule-making process began after the members received a report from a consultant about the pending industry.
The report showed comments from the public and gaming industry insiders. It also provided suggestions on how the regulations should be drafted. Sage said that he is pleased with where the commission is at with the rules.
A public hearing is now on the table for December 17 during the next Commission meeting. The meeting will take place at the Nebraska Innovation Campus, and it is expected that members of the gambling industry as well as interested residents will be in attendance.
Commission chairman Dennis Lee said that the upcoming meeting is critical when it comes to timing. If the board votes in favor of the rules, then they must be reviewed by Governor Pete Rickets and approved as well as Attorney General Doug Peterson. At that point, the rules then must be recognized by the Secretary of State’s office.
Because there are still several steps to take, it will most likely be next year before the race tracks are able to apply for licensing.
Who Wants In?
There are six horse racing tracks currently offering gambling services in the state. This includes the popular Lincoln Race Course. Each of the venues have said they want in on the casino gaming action. Proposals have come from all around, with operators wanted to create new tracks in areas like York, Bellevue, Kimball, and Gering.
In Lincoln, plans are to create the WarHorse Casino, with $220 million spent on its creation. More than 1,200 gaming stations will be included on-site with a hotel built as well. It is expected that the casino property will take up to two years to create. The operator behind the plans would open a temporary property that will be home just over 300 slot games.
Both existing and new tracks are eligible for casino licensing, and it is unclear if the regulators will give preference to already established businesses or not. We won’t know for sure until the process begins, but one would imagine that preference will be given to the current operators.
Along with discussing the potential for casino gaming, the Commission has approved live racing date for the tracks beginning in 2022. Each track was given day counts and dates when the races can occur. Fonner Park will feature 37 days starting in late February through late May. Columbus Exposition and Racing will start at the end of May to early June.
Lincoln Race Course and other tracks in the state are still planning dates. Once the casino process is approved, if the majority of operating tracks are given licensing, then visitors will have access to live horse racing during a portion of the year and casino gaming year-round.
The new gaming options are sure to give a boost to the gambling industry in the state, securing additional, much-needed revenues.