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Ho-Chunk Tribe Pushing for Legalized Casino Gambling Again in Nebraska

After having already contributed money to support a campaign for legalized casino gambling in Nebraska, Ho-Chunk Inc. is offering even more cash to the cause. The Native American tribe is based in the state and is supporting a petition ballot drive by contributing almost $1.5 million thus far to Keep the Money in Nebraska Campaign.

Campaign Push

The Keep the Money in Nebraska campaign will give voters in the state a change to decide if commercial gambling should be allowed at the licensed horse race tracks of the state. There are tracks in several areas including Lincoln, Omaha and Hastings.

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska is the group begin the Ho-Chunk Inc. company. Member of the tribe, CEO and president of Ho-Chunk, Lance Morgan, commented that they are not spending the amount of capital they are because they think the idea is a bad one.

According to Morgan, the measure proposed would generated as much as $80 million a year in tax revenues for the state, with money also going towards the counties and cities where gaming would be offered.

The new gaming options would also create jobs that would offset some employment positions that will be lost when TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab merges. Supporters of the measure believe that the boost to the Nebraska economy would prevent neighboring states from benefiting from Nebraska money. Players from the state travel to casinos in Iowa with over $320 million spent on gambling.

According to Morgan, 90% of the customers at the Council Bluffs casino in Iowa are from Lincoln and Omaha.

Opposition

Like any gambling expansion bill, there is opposition to this measure. Those opposed are working as well to see the measure fail. They argue that the commercial casinos would increase bankruptcies in the state as well as domestic disputes. They believe that several social problems are associated with ambling.

Gambling with the Good Life is one such group against the proposal. Executive director of the group, Pat Loontjer, commented that they are in campaign mode and will not take anything for granted. The group knows that a battle will ensue and more money will be put into it to get the bill on the ballot.

In the past, such efforts to expand gambling in the state have been thwarted by those who are opposed to an expansion. According to Loontjer, she experts that this time around it will be more difficult because the opinion of the public has changed. She feels that the campaign in favor of the measure will spend at least another $1 million before the 2020 election takes place.

If the measure is placed on the ballot, residents will be voting to allow gambling as well as on changes to state law that will regulate and tax the industry. As the New Year begins, we may see Iowa getting involved as well. The state could see potential revenue losses so casinos in the state may band together in support of the opposed sector to try and stop the movement from going forward.

The petition campaign must have enough signatures by July 2nd in order to meet a set deadline. Based on previous reports, the Keep the Money in Nebraska campaign had just over $27,000 left with money having been spent on gathering signatures, legal services, consultants and travel. With monetary support from the Ho-Chunk, the campaign should be able to stay afloat and complete the task of obtaining signatures to get the measure on the November 2020 ballot.