Nebraska Racing & Gaming Commission Approve Casino Rules

The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission

Casino gaming is closer to fruition in Nebraska as the state Racing and Gaming Commission has approved the rules for the new industry.

Historic changes are occurring in Nebraska as gaming regulators approve new rules for casinos within horse racetracks. The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission unanimously approved rules for casinos to operate in the state with a 6-0 vote. The rules now move on to Attorney General Doug Peterson and Governor Pete Ricketts for review. If approved, the Secretary of State then gets to review them and if that final approval is given, then the rules are effective seven days later. We could see casinos popping up very soon depending on how quickly the state moves forward with this process.

Pushing Ahead for Casino Gaming

In November 2020, voters in the state approved casino gaming for licensed racetracks. It has taken over a year to get the ball rolling. Even though the process has been a long one, operators are happy with the progress and are to offer services.

The regulations are 67 pages long and had to be reviewed thoroughly before any approvals would be given by regulators. Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association executive vice president Lynne McNally commented that the pages were vetted, and the focus is on the integrity and security of the industry.

The rules are based on language that was included in the constitutional amendments approved by voters in the state and by information provided by industry experts and consultants. Casino operators with licensing must pay a $1 million fee, but the license lasts for 20 years.

So far, operators seem to be happy with the rules and progress. Global Gaming Nebraska president Sean Boyd commented that the group fully supports the rules as they are written. He feels the rules will help create an ethical gaming industry. Global Gaming Nebraska is a Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma subsidiary that hopes to offer casino services in Hastings.

The Opposition is Coming Around

Of course, when the gambling amendment was approved, there were groups that came out in opposition. This is not uncommon. On the plus side though, the groups that were opposed seem to be more on board now that they know what the rules are and how the industry will be laid out.

Nebraska Family Alliance has long been opposed to the idea of gambling in general. Nate Grasz, the policy director of the group, said that he could not support the rules due to the opposition to gambling and testified in the hearing on the rules as a neutral party.

However, he said that there are elements of the rules that the group support. Grasz did suggest changes to the language of the rules to ensure casinos provide signage about gambling. The venues must also avoid targeting via advertising. The Alliance wants to be sure that operations take place without harming groups like seniors or the vulnerable.

Gambling With The Good Life is a group that has opposed gambling in Nebraska since the mid-90s. Pat Loontjer is part of the organization and recent said it was disappointing to see the casino expansion in Nebraska. However, the group does support the rules and feel that enough time and energy was put into the process to create a safe environment.

Loontjer did point out that she did not want to see more casinos than the six racing venues already operational in Nebraska. The amendment does not indicate that there is a limited number of casinos that can be added in the state. It will be interesting to see if only the six venues add casino gaming or if more venues pop up in Nebraska.

Associate Writer: Suzie has extensive experience writing on a number of different topics, but writing on slots remains her first love, and it really shows.