Nebraska Casino Ballot Measure A Possibility in 2020

Nebraska Casino Ballot Measure A Possibility in 2020
By Trey Killian

Nebraska has not been a haven for gambling, especially when held up against other states. But that could soon change due to a petition gaining some traction.

The petition, launched by those in favor of legal casinos in the state, is aimed at generating and gauging support for casino gaming ahead of next year.

This may lead to commercial casino gambling showing up on the 2020 November ballot as an item for voters to decide on during Nebraska’s next election cycle.

To say Nebraska has been unwelcoming to gambling in the past would be an understatement. While it hasn’t instituted an all-out ban on the practice, like Hawaii and Utah, gamers’ options have been significantly limited over the years.

The local Native American tribes, prominently the Winnebago, control the gambling infrastructure that does exist in the state, as several casinos do operate within its borders. It’s Ho-Chunk Inc., an economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago, that is financially backing the petition according to an Associated Press news article.

In that article Lance Morgan, the CEO of Ho-Chunk, explains how a loss of potential gambling profits could create the onus for change.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars go across the border every year,” Morgan told the AP. “For a Nebraskan to do gaming, you have to go half a mile. It's the height of paternalism to try to try to restrict it.”

What’s the Big Deal?

So why all the fuss about casino gaming when, as mentioned, several casinos already operate in Nebraska?

These facilities don’t provide the full casino experience, instead offering only bingo and card games like poker that don’t give the house a stake in the action.

So the sound of slot reels jingling won’t be heard at any of these locations, nor will customers be able to take in a game of blackjack, roulette, craps or a host of other favorites.

Those are all only available at specifically commercial casinos, which is what the petition and recent movement are all about.

Potential Vote Could be Particularly Significant

A decision to legalize commercial casinos in Nebraska would also carry special significance to the overall scope of gambling across the United States.

As 25 states currently allow them, Nebraska could very well become the state that tips the scales. The majority of U.S. states would then offer Las Vegas-style casino gaming, ant that could have an impact on how gambling is viewed nationwide.

It could also generate even more impetus for other states to join the party as sports betting and online gambling continue to expand in their own rights.

As far as the current U.S. gambling industry, as it seems to shift and grow every month it continues to capture the attention of more and more states. Even those, like Nebraska, that one might not have been expected to jump in.

As it turns out, when enough people notice a loss of potential revenue for a state due to long-existing laws, there’s more than a good chance those laws might soon be revisited.

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Trey Killian covers the gambling and casino industries in the U.S. A budding reporter, Killian is a graduate of Marquette University and writes about a range of topics, including but not limited to digital casino gaming, online poker and industry news.

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