A group has formed to support historic horse racing on the ballot this November.
Jordan McGrain, a spokesman for Nebraskans for Amendment One, says those who support the issue decided they couldn’t wait until the Supreme Court rules whether it will actually make the ballot.
“We didn’t feel like we could wait for the court’s decision. Again, we feel confident that Nebraska voters are going to get to decide,” McGrain tells Nebraska Radio Network, adding that a campaign takes work and time and supporters believed they needed to act now. “So, we just felt like we had to move forward regardless of what that decision is.”
An anti-gambling group has taken the issue to court, claiming that it violates the state constitution requirement that ballot issues stick to one issue. Amendment One not only would authorize betting on historic horse racing, but designates how proceeds would be spent.
The State Supreme Court will decide whether that constitutes two issues or whether the distribution of funds is a separate, not merely a related, issue.
McGrain believes the proposed distribution of proceeds, especially the provision that money go toward property tax relief is a big seller for the issue.
“And I think that’s a pretty powerful thing,” McGrain says. “Clearly, property tax relief is a priority for most Nebraskans and this gives them direct access to that. So, I think that will be a deciding factor for a lot of folks.”
McGrain understands groups such as Gambling with the Good Life strongly oppose the issue.
“It’ll be a spirited campaign, just like anything is,” McGrain says. “We certainly hope that we do whatever we need to do to make sure Nebraska voters understand what’s at stake with the constitutional amendment, both for the future of horse racing in this state, it’s got a deep history and has been part of our culture for a hundred years, and for the absolute necessity of property tax relief.”
The legislature had approved the issue in the past, but couldn’t overcome a gubernatorial veto. This year, it decided to go directly to the voters.
Historic horse racing allows bets to be placed on previously run races via video machines, with enough of the identity obscured to disguise the outcome. They can only be set up at live horse racing tracks in the state.