Nebraska Fails to Move Forward with Gambling Legalization

by Kyle Miller

NebraskaThe state of Nebraska has been trying for some time to legalize casino gambling and it seems as efforts to do so have stalled.

Across the United States, the gambling landscape looks very different, depending on where you look. Some states offer a wide variety of gaming options while others offer little to no gaming at all. You may have the option to play poker only or have access to casino or even bingo gaming. The state of Nebraska has been trying to see legislation pass that will allow for an expansion of casino gambling to take place within the state. Proposals have been made to see casino gambling offered at the thoroughbred horse racing tracks of the state but efforts seem to have stalled.

Petition Drives Unsuccessful

To be able to see casino gambling passed within the state, Nebraskans tried to conduct a petition drive. Three petition drives have actually taken place with each being unsuccessful for one reason or another. On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Gale, stated that the two petitions that proposed laws to implement casino gaming would not be moving on to the ballot this November. Each of the petitions failed to receive enough valid signatures to place the measure on the ballot for voters to decide what they would like to see.

Earlier in the month of August, Gale had reported that the third petition for the state was proposing an amendment to the constitution to authorize gambling expansion but this petition has also fell short. Each of the petitions had a higher than average error rate when it comes to gathering signatures. Duplicate signatures were found as well as signatures from individuals who are not registered to vote. Signatures were also invalid due to the petition being signed by individuals who were not registered within the county where the signature was given.

The invalid signatures were thrown out which left the petitions far short of what was needed to be able to place the proposals on the November ballot. Each of the first two petitions needed to have just over 80,000 signatures, or 7% of the number of registered voters as of the 7th of July. The petition was unable to reach this deadline in regards to signature numbers.

Pro-Gambling Support

There are groups who were in support of the proposals and worked hard to try and see enough signatures garnered in regards to the petition campaigns. One such group, Keep the Money in Nebraska, reported that they had collected around 90,000 signatures on each petition. However, Gale stated that the petition to provide casino gaming at the local race tracks only had just over 73,000 signatures. Only 51,993 of these signatures were to be considered valid.

The petition involving the proposal that would see how casino tax revenues would be split had only just over 78,000 signatures and only 54,854 of those signatures were considered valid. The petition considering the amendment to the constitution showed the same type of results.

Keep the Money in Nebraska stated they had been able to turn in close to 130,000 in signatures. Gale has reported that actually only 119,666 signatures could be considered. A spokesman for the group, Scott Lautenbaugh, stated that he could not account for the discrepancies within the number of signatures filed and the number that was counted by the Secretary of State’s office.

Efforts Stall For Now

Because the campaigns were not able to gather enough signatures, the efforts to expand gambling in the state will be stalled for now. A gambling expansion was last voted on in the state back in 2006 and voters rejected this proposal to allow video keno devices in the state.