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Nebraskans vote to pass gambling initiatives but gaming won't be implemented for a few months

Posted at 6:07 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 19:48:54-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — This year's ballot in Nebraska included three initiatives that would allow gambling in the state. Initiatives 429, 430 and 431 passed by about 65% of the vote.

Those initiatives now allow gambling at racetracks, the implementation of a gaming commission and for revenue from gambling to be taxed.

The Keep The Money In Nebraska Committee has estimated that Nebraskans spend about $400 to $500 million gambling in other states. They now predict a big portion of that revenue will be brought back to Nebraska.

"We still predict that most Nebraskans are going to want to stay home and if they’re going to gamble and if they’re going to spend money on entertainment, they’re going to do it in their own state where they can reap some of the rewards," Mike Newlin, general manager of Horsemen's Park, said.

The money that is brought back to the state will be taxed by 20%. Some of it will go to the property tax relief fund, part will go into a gambling assistance fund and some will go back into the cities that host the tracks.

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Supporters of the initiatives also say the industry will allow for more jobs to be created.

"In addition to our current employees, we’re talking about 4,600 new jobs to the state of Nebraska at these six race tracks just on the casino side of the business. With 4,600 jobs, that equates to $145 million in new payroll for Nebraskans each year, so that’s a big economic boom," Newlin said.

Although the initiatives passed, gambling still won't be allowed probably for another few months. Racetracks are dependent on when the gaming commission is set in place and when those on it will finalize the rules and regulations.

"It all rests on the gaming commission first. We have to get that gaming commission established and they have to work on the rules and regulations and that could take a few months at least," Newlin said. "Realistically it’s tough to say what the timeline would be because we can’t take a bet until everything is completely regulated and legal obviously."

Newlin worries that Governor Ricketts may stall implementing the commission, but Ricketts said he's already started working on it.

"I have tasked my team with reviewing the ballot initiative and to ascertain next steps. Nebraska will respect the will of the people and the decision they made on Election Day,” Ricketts said in a statement to 3 News now.