3rd time, possible casino gamble vote on ballot

Posted at 12:31 PM, Jul 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-05 13:33:25-04

It is round three in the fight to bring casino gambling to the Cornhusker state.

And this time, supporters believe voters are ready to approve.

“I think with the passage of time, people have seen how we are just giving away so much revenue and so much business to the surrounding states because it's literally all around us,” says Scott Lautenbaugh, spokesperson for Keep the Money in Nebraska.

Advocates claim nearly $500 million leave the state every year because people gamble in neighboring states.

The former state senator is part of a movement that began collecting signatures last fall to bring three proposals to the November ballot.

The first would amend the state constitution to allow all types of "games of chance" at horse racing tracks.

“Then there's a follow up legislative proposal that provides for taxation of the revenue from it,” Lautenbaugh says. “And then another that would set up the regulatory body for it to govern and approve the casinos.”

In a phone interview Tuesday, the supporter says the governing body would function a lot like the commission for horseracing with members appointing the members.

But not so fast, according to long-time opponent Pat Loontjer.

“It's a very deceptive petition because they're claiming it’s only going to be at the horse tracks but that's not true,” says Loontjer, an executive director of Gambling with the Good Life. “If we change our constitution, that's going to allow unlimited Indian casinos.”

The opponent tells KMTV Action 3 News the expansion would lack oversight with no tax revenue for the state and be operated by casino management from Nevada.

 At one point, the former senator was on our side, she says.

“Just a few years ago, he flipped and nobody quite knows why he suddenly took a turn to the left,” Loontjer says.

But Lautenbaugh says, the proposals have added value for Nebraskans.

“It is a source of revenue that people are voluntarily doing,” he says. “Property tax wears very heavily on people throughout Nebraska. I think it some relief. I think it's great. I think people will be all for it.