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Nebraska group says they need signatures to put legalized gambling on the ballot

Posted at 9:32 AM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 10:32:26-04

OMAHA NEB. (KMTV) — Iowa allows expanded legalized gaming, but Nebraska does not. This year, some Nebraskans are trying to get the issue put on the November ballot.

Horseman's Park and Lincoln Race Course have joined forces with Keeping the Money in Nebraska, to collect signatures to allow voters to decide this issue in November.

Horseman's Park is use to being full of people, energy and excitement. Due to COVID-19, they closed down for two months and are just now reopening.

Mike Newlin, CEO and general manager, says the closing devastated the business, and now more than ever, he says the millions of dollars from legalized gaming is needed.

"$8.8 billionhas been bet at the Council Bluffs' casinos by Nebraska residents," Newlin said. "That's a lot of money. We all know if you go over to Council Bluffs right now, most the the license plates in the parking lot will be Nebraska residents. It is time to let Nebraska vote and decide what they want to do."

Newlin says allowing gaming will create 4,500 direct jobs and hundreds of other jobs to support entertainment, hospitality, construction and marketing.

Opponents say the move would lead to more problems, including gambling addiction.

But there are also some that are undecided on the issue like Karen Effa.

"At the very least, putting that option out there for people to decide whether they think our state should allow those bets to be made here," said Effa. "Putting something on the ballot doesn't mean it is going to happen. It should be on the ballot to give people a chance to make up their mind."

Newlin says for those that are opposed, it's really simple.

"Liquor is legal, but you don't have to drink," Newlin said. "But with this, you can reap the rewards of lower property taxes"

They need 120,000 signatures by July 2.

"Iowa raised $330 million in tax revenue for the state," Newlin said. "There is a lot of money available that we should have tapped into a long time ago, that our neighbors have been reaping the rewards on. It's time we started keeping the money here."

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3.