Gov. Dave Heineman today vetoed the historic horse racing bill.
Heineman state LB 806 would expand gambling, something supporters of the measure adamantly denied. The bill would have allowed horse tracks to set up electronic machines that would display previously-run horse races, disguised so that the gamblers wouldn’t recognize the race. Proponents promoted the bill as a way to save the horse racing industry in Nebraska and the thousands of jobs it represents.
In Heineman’s veto message, he stated, “The legislation proposes to create a new form of gambling by authorizing, for the first time in Nebraska’s history, wagering on historic horse races.”
The governor added:
LB 806 is problematic in several respects. First, it is not at all clear whether this form of wagering is permissible under Article III, Section 24 of the Nebraska Constitution which permits betting on the results of horse races, wherever run, either in or out of Nebraska, by the parimutuel method when conducted in a licensed racetrack enclosure.
This provision is authorized by Nebraska voters as an exception to the general prohibition against gambling in our state; however, this exception has always been construed to apply to live horse racing, not to slot-machine betting on past races. Effectively, LB 806 reads meaning into the Constitution by allowing betting on horse races not only wherever they occur but also “whenever” they were run.
Heineman also objected to specific provisions of the bill that would place contingencies on historic horse racing. The bill requires that a racetrack be constructed in Lancaster County and that the number of days of live horse racing or the purse increase after four years of historic horse racing as determined by the State Racing Commission.
Heineman ends his veto message with this statement:
This legislation contradicts the spirit of the live horse racing provisions enacted by the voters in the Nebraska Constitution and expands gambling beyond what has currently been authorized. For these reasons, I respectfully urge you to sustain my vetoes of LB 806 & LB 806A.