The Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association are once again getting together with Ho-Chunk Inc. in an attempt to legalize casino gambling and possibly even sports betting in Nebraska. The two groups announced that they will join forces and try to get the issue on a ballot in 2020. This will mean that the group will need to collect tens of thousands of signature starting in 2019.
If voters in the state approve, racetracks in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Columbus, South Sioux City and maybe Hastings would be able to offer casino gambling. The partners think that their efforts will be successful this time. They tried doing this in 2015-16 but they were unsuccessful because the consultants that were hired to gather signatures didn’t reach their target. This led to a lawsuit against the consultants.
That lawsuit claimed that Northstar Campaign Systems falsely reported the number of signatures that it had collected. NCS was paid $1.29 million but they fell 40,000 signatures short.
Barry Lake, president of the HBPA claimed that polling conducted in 2015 showed that there was plenty of support to allow legalized casino gambling in the state. He said that there will be a better consultant for the petition drive this time and that the language of the petition would be sorted out over the winter before signatures are collected next year.
Group Might Not Include Sports Gambling
Lance Morgan, who is the head of Ho-Chunk Inc., explained that their 2015 efforts were made difficult because circulators had to get signatures on three different petitions. The first was a petition to amend Nebraska’s constitution to permit casino gaming while a second was needed to create a regulatory agency. The third petition was to decide on the best ways to spend gambling proceeds.
He said that he would like to only have a couple of petitions this time and that if having sports betting complicates things then they may not pursue legalizing it.
Gambling Proceeds Should Remain In Nebraska
Officials from Ho-Chunk and HBPA claim that Nebraskans place about $500 million worth of wagers each year in neighboring states like Iowa. They insist that that money should stay in Nebraska. However, not everyone is in favour of legalized gambling in Nebraska. A spokesman from Gambling With Good Life said that the last drive failed and he hopes this one does too.