Nebraskans will likely have the ability to cast a vote on whether they want to introduce casino-style gambling to their state later this year.
According to a Chicago Tribune report, a pro-gambling group called Keep the Money in Nebraska announced that it will submit 475,000 signatures for three petitions that would allow casino gambling at horse tracks in the state.
Nebraska is one of the 10 states that doesn’t have casinos. The group argues that the Nebraskans take their money over the border into Iowa to gamble.
There are a plethora of casinos built along the Iowa-Nebraska border, including the Horseshoe Council Bluffs, which is in Iowa but just 4 miles away from the center of Omaha, one of Nebraska’s biggest cities. The casino is home to a World Series of Poker Circuit stop every year.
One of the group’s three petitions would amend the state constitution to allow gambling. Another would change state law to allow the government to regulate the market. The third allocates tax revenue from gambling to local government.
The petition to amend the constitution received roughly 205,000 signatures, while the other two earned about 135,000 each. The petitions will be sent to the Nebraska secretary of state’s office, where the signatures will be counted and validated.
If validated, the issue will be put up for a vote this November, and citizens of the state will have the final say as to whether their state expands gambling options.
In order to change the state constitution, petitions need 10 percent of registered voters to sign on, so the group organizing the petition doesn’t know the exact number of signatures required when they start the task. This process varies wildly from state to state.
According to the latest data from Nebraska’s secretary of state office, there are more than 1.2 million registered voters in the state, making it highly likely that all three petitions end up on the ballot.
Luckily for gambling advocates in the Cornhusker State, the route taken to bring about expanded gambling won’t have to get the signature of Gov. Pete Ricketts. According to the Tribune, Ricketts is staunchly opposed to any type of gambling and may use personal funds to try and stop the measure from passing.
The Republican governor is also opposed to the same effort being put in to legalize medical marijuana.
“We’ll continue to talk to Nebraskans about the harm that will be caused by both of these ballot issues,” said Ricketts at a press conference.