More than $250,000 has been raised by the group Keep the Money in Nebraska to circulate petitions, asking that voters decide whether casino gambling should be allowed at the race track.
Former State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha believes this can succeed at the ballot where a similar proposal failed in 2004.
“I think people will look at it and say, look, we need to provide some relief for our taxes,” Lautenbaugh tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “Our roads need to be maintained. We want quality education. This is a way to fund it that we’re currently just giving away to the other states.”
Lautenbaugh says the petition comes in three pieces. One petition seeks to change the state constitution to allow casinos at Nebraska licensed racetracks: Horseman’s Park in Omaha, Lincoln Race Course, Fonner Park in Grand Island, Columbus Exposition and Racing, and Fairplay Park in Hastings. The other two make changes to state law regarding taxing revenue generated and regulating the industry. The petitions have been separated to ensure the petition drive does not violate state law that limits referendums to one issue.
Lautenbaugh says state government would reap plenty from the proposed tax of 20% on gambling revenue.
“We believe that could bring in about $120 million annually,” according to Lautenbaugh. “That could go for property tax relief, roads, education, you name it. So, we are going to make that case.”
Keep the Money in Nebraska would need to gather just short of 114,000 signatures to place the issue on the ballot in November of next year. Signatures will be due July 7th.
The petition drive is being funded mostly by Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:55]