A proposal that fell just short of passage last year has returned to the Unicameral: historic horse racing.
Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha has brought his issue to allow betting on historic horse races back, claiming it could generate the money needed to revive the state’s horse racing industry.
“Because, very simply put there are literally thousands of Nebraskans who depend on these jobs,” Lautenbaugh told colleagues as debate on LB 41CA began. “And we saw hundreds of them here last year, filling the galleries, saying please help us save our industry. I see that as different from Keno and I see that as different from other forms of gaming that we may not favor and I may not favor.”
Lautenbaugh succeeded in guiding an historic horse racing bill through the Unicameral last year only to have it fall to a gubernatorial veto. An override attempt fell one vote short.
It might be more difficult this year.
Opponents, including Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, threaten to mount a filibuster against the measure and its companion bill, LB 590.
Sen. Chambers referred to the troubles of his predecessor to point out the problems of gambling.
“Stealing campaign funds to gamble; people who are ordinarily responsible, whether they have a compulsion or an addiction, will do things that are hurtful to themselves and to the society,” Chambers stated during floor debate.
Former Sen. Brenda Council of Omaha pleaded guilty to failing to report the use of campaign funds to gamble.
Historic horse races are run on video machines at license horse racing facilities. General information on the horse and jockey are provided, but the actual race is disguised. Proponents claim that the revenue generated by bets placed on historic horse races provides enough income to keep live horse racing viable.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]
AUDIO: Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh opens debate on LR 41CA [2:30]