Casino Gambling Initiative To Appear on November Ballot in Nebraska

There are many forms of gambling found in states across the US. From bingo to the lottery, casino facilities to online gaming, the options are vast. In some states, lawmakers are looking to add more gambling options to bring in revenues that are much needed for programs and construction projects. To make changes, some states require a constitutional amendment which requires a public vote. In Nebraska, efforts to bring casino gambling to horse racetracks have moved forward as initiatives have made their way onto the November ballot.

Voters to Decide

Three ballot initiatives have moved forward in Nebraska and will be decided upon in November by citizens of the state. The bills focus on the regulation of casino gambling within horse racetracks of the state.

On Thursday, the State Supreme Court voted 4 to 3 in favor of pro-gambling groups and their effort to bring gambling to the tracks. Secretary of State Bob Evnen must now add the initiatives to the ballot for November.

If voters approve the initiatives, the constitution of the state will be amended, and casino gambling will be legalized at the tracks. Laws will need to be created to regulate the industry as well as set up tax payments to the state.

There are racetracks in Columbus, Hastings, Grand Island, Lincoln, Omaha and South Sioux City, all of which will be eligible to offer the new option.

Long-Time Effort

The November vote on the subject marks the first time that citizens have had a say so in approving gambling changes in the state. A petition drive first took place in 2016 but did not have enough signatures to move forward. Legal questions also came into play which led to the derailment of the project.

Andre Barry is an attorney who argued the case for Keep the Money in Nebraska, one of the pro-gambling groups involved in the effort. Barry stated he was grateful that the court decided to hear the case and ruled quickly.

Of course, there are also those who are opposed. Governor Pete Ricketts is one individual that is not in favor of gambling in the state. The governor commented after the ruling that he respects the judgement of the Court but urges citizens of the state to keep gambling ‘out of the Good Life’ when voting this November.

Keep the Money in Nebraska submitted three initiatives for the ballot with over 475,000 signatures back in the summer. However, in late August the Secretary of State said the ballots were in violation of state laws as they must stick to a single topic and clearly understood by voters. The group along with other pro-gambling entities took the ruling to the court and were given a decision this week in their favor.

Now it will be up to the voters to decide if the state should allow casino gambling within the race track facilities. With the many signatures that were received during the petition process, it might be a sign that the option will be approved by voters.


Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.