Nebraskans would be able to vote on horse races that have already taken place under a bill moving forward in the legislature.
LB 806, endorsing so-called historic racing, advances on a 26-18 vote. It moves to an uncertain second round, barely able to overcome a filibuster.
Much of the debate centered less on historic horse races and more on gambling in general. Supporters defended the measure against attacks that it would expand gambling in Nebraska, insisting it is needed to prop up a sagging horse racing industry.
Still, some took the gambling issue head on.
Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus rejected suggestions Nebraskans are against expanded gambling.
“If you look at the election results which are alluded to, you will find that the gambling that has been rejected has been very limited-scope gaming,” Schumacher said during legislative floor debate.
Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha challenged Schumacher’s statement.
“My answer to Sen. Schumacher right there would be, I want to see the numbers,” McCoy stated. “He talks about there supposedly being at least a 10 or 20% margin of people in favor of expanding gambling. I want to see the numbers. Show me the money.”
The bill would allow racetracks to install machines similar to video lottery terminals that feature previous horse races. Bettors would be given information needed to place a wager, but the races would be disguised so they could not tell which race it was. Supporters claim the machines would generate enough money to improve live horse racing. The machines could increase betting by $16 million a year, according to a projection by the legislative fiscal staff.