The expansion of casinos in Nebraska is once again a topic of debate as the state grapples with the decision to open new gambling facilities. After residents previously voted in favor of introducing casino gambling, six racetrack licensees were identified as eligible to develop casinos in Lincoln, South Sioux City, Grand Island, Omaha, Columbus, and Hastings.
However, supporters are advocating for the opening of casinos in Kimball, Norfolk, York, North Platte, Bellevue, and Fremont. Despite these efforts, a recent decision by the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission has put a temporary halt on the planned casino expansion.
A recent study suggested that the current number of racetracks in the state is sufficient, indicating that there is no need for new racing licenses. In response to this study, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission voted in favor of forming a committee to determine whether the study should be utilized or if another study should be conducted.
Dennis Lee, chairman of the commission, expressed concerns about the completeness of the study, stating that it lacked sufficient data for the Commission to make an informed decision about expanding gambling in the state.
The study, conducted by The Innovation Group, highlighted that the current number of racing licenses in the state has “more than sufficient capacity” to support market growth. It also emphasized that the data did not support the addition of more racing licenses.
However, during a meeting, Tom Zitt, a representative of The Innovation Group, admitted that the study did not present a complete picture of the impact of new casinos and racetracks on the existing market due to limited racing dates. This admission led to criticism from racetrack officials who claimed that The Innovation Group had never reached out to them for data that could have been used in the study.
The current regulations in Nebraska require market research to be conducted on the impact of new horse racetracks and casinos before approval can be granted for such projects. This is to ensure that new projects do not significantly disrupt the operations of existing racetracks and casinos. As a result, the decision regarding casino expansion in Nebraska remains on hold as the state continues to assess the potential impact of new gambling facilities.