December 28, 2014

Anti-gambling group pleased Supreme Court will decide horse racing issue

An anti-gambling group is thrilled the state Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether voters will indeed decide the issue of historic horse racing.

The legislature failed to overcome a gubernatorial veto previously and this year by-passed the governor and placed the issue on the ballot.

Gambling with the Good Life first took its objection to Secretary of State John Gale. When Gale refused to throw the measure off the November ballot, the group filed a lawsuit, claiming the measure violates the constitutional restriction that ballot measures be confined to one subject.

The Nebraska Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. It has scheduled oral arguments for August 27th.

“We’re delighted, because we believe that once they hear all the facts that this proposal, this paragraph, clearly violates the constitution,” Gambling with the Good Life Executive Director Pat Loontjer tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “It is not single subject. It asks two questions, at least two questions, and that’s unfair to the voter.”

Loontjer claims the measure contains two issues, because it asks voters to approve a new form of gambling and also asks voters to decide how revenue from that form of gambling should be spent. Gale had agreed it was a close call, but determined they were closely enough related to pass constitutional muster.

The issue asks that voters approve authorization of so-called historic horse racing, previously run races with enough detail obscured to disguise the outcome. Bettors place wages on the races replayed on video machines. Backers hope they will generate enough money at the state’s five licensed tracks to save the state horse racing industry.

Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.