Expanded gambling will help Nebraska’s economy win big, racing industry says

Officials say casino gambling will create thousands of jobs, boost the economy and lower property taxes for Nebraska residents.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN)- With close to 65% of voter approval on all three of Nebraska’s gambling initiatives, casinos will soon be making their way to the state’s biggest cities. Nebraska voters approved initiatives 429, 430 and 431, which will authorize, regulate and tax gaming revenue at licensed horse racing tracks across the state.

Initiative 431 will impose an annual tax of 20% on gambling revenue, 70% of which would go to property tax relief, 25% to counties, and the remaining to problem gamblers assistance and the state general fund.

Supporters of the initiatives tell Channel 8 News they think common sense played a role in Nebraska’s election.

“I was very pleasantly surprised by the percentage that we won by, so, it was great,” says Lynne McNally, Executive Vice President of Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

“it’s been a long time coming, it’s been a long time to get here but we finally did it,” says Mike Newlin, the CEO and General Manager of Lincoln’s Racecourse, where a casino is expected to pop up in coming months or years.

However, before construction can begin, Nebraska’s Racing Commission will need to become the Racing and Gaming Commission.

“They will have to add two members, those are governor-appointed, so the governor will add two more members for a total of seven and then they come up with rules and regulations we need to follow in order to apply for the licensing and then get construction going,” McNally says.

Governor Ricketts, who has been unapologetically opposed to gambling in Nebraska, has yet to comment on the voters decision to legalize expanded gambling in the state.

Newlin and McNally say the Lincoln Racecourse will be home to the state’s biggest and best casino. They also say that statewide, the casinos will bring jobs to Nebraskans – an estimated 4,600 jobs in the casinos alone.

Casinos are also expected to be put up in Omaha, Grand Island, South Sioux City, Columbus and Hastings.

“These are good paying jobs in the casinos and careers in the casinos from marketing to accounting to dealers to janitors,” Newlin says. “This is going to equate to $145,000,000 in new payroll for the state of Nebraska and Nebraska residents.”

Newlin also cited the 2,500 jobs that were lost in Omaha at TD Ameritrade this year. “Nebraskans want their jobs back,” he says.

Newlin and McNally say that Nebraska’s casinos are going to have our state’s flair and class. The one in Lincoln will include a hotel and swimming pool.

“It won’t just be slots, it’ll be black jack, roulette, craps, you know, all of those traditional Las Vegas style games. All of those options,” McNally says.

“I think it will be something that everyone will be proud of, something very classy but not over-the-top glitzy Vegas style show boat type of thing,” says Newlin.

Although there is no telling how long the gaming commission process could take, as well as planning for construction, Newlin and McNally hope to have updates in the coming weeks.

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