State lawmakers have yet to decide whether Nebraska voters will be given the opportunity to allow betting on historic horse racing.
An amendment has been added to the measure, delaying a final vote.
Prior to that, legislators voted to end a filibuster against LR 41, a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot in November.
Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha led the filibuster against the measure. He told colleagues claiming that betting on videos of past races with the identity of the race obscured is far from betting on a live horse race.
“We’re really asking the people of Nebraska if this were to go to them to vote on in November to vote on not just an expanded form of gambling, but on a new form of wagering that is not pari-mutuel wagering,” McCoy stated.
Sen. Lydia Brasch of Bancroft objected to the push to place the video machines at horse tracks.
“So, the attempt to bring in these machines that look like, act like, feel like a slot machine will take the place of a live, breathing, running, beautiful creature that we see in our pastures,” Brasch said during floor debate.
The idea of historic horse racing has been a controversial measure the last few years.
Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha sponsors the resolution. He failed to override a gubernatorial veto of a similar measure in 2012 by one vote. This year, Lautenbaugh seeks to maneuver around the governor and send the issue directly to a vote of the people.
Lautenbaugh broke the filibuster against the measure, but instead of asking for a final vote he moved to take the resolution back to Select File to add an amendment that spells out how revenue generated by pari-mutuel wagering would be spent. The legislature approved the amendment that directs about half of the money to fund public schools, about half to pay for property tax relief, with the remainder going to the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund.
The move will delay a final vote on the measure until tomorrow or Thursday.
Lautenbaugh objected to critics charging that the video machines are no more than slot machines.
“But, understand this would allow these devices at licensed tracks only. You can’t just go install these in your backyard. It doesn’t work that way,” Lautenbaugh told colleagues. “And this is meant to prop up and provide another source of revenue for an important industry in our state that actually provides thousands of jobs.”