Nebraska residents would be able to bet on historic horse races under a bill now one vote away from being sent to the governor’s desk.
LB 806 held the votes it garnered from the first round and advanced to final consideration on a 26-18 vote, one more than the minimum needed.
Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha, the bill’s sponsor, says it is vital to the horse racing industry in Nebraska.
“This will save horse racing in Nebraska as it has done in other states where it has been tried,” Lautenbaugh tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, it’s vitally important for thousands of jobs in Nebraska.”
Supporters emphasized jobs while opponents claimed the bill would expand gambling in Nebraska. Lautenbaugh amended the measure to address some of the concerns. The changes specify that a race track must be constructed in Lincoln within four years of the video machines being installed. The number of days devoted to live horse racing must increase as do the purses.
The bill would authorize betting on horse races that have already taken place. The races would be shown on video machines with enough detail removed to disguise the race.
Opponents dropped plans for a filibuster out of concern that prolonged debate might harm other legislation as the session winds down to its April 12th adjournment.
Yet, Sen. Tony Fulton of Lincoln, a leading opponent of the measure, holds out hope the bill will lose on final consideration.
“I’m still hopeful that they don’t get 25 votes to pass this,” Fulton tells us. “But, if they do pass it and it goes to the governor’s desk, I do hope that the governor will veto it.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]