A petition has been launched to allow Nebraska voters to have the final say next year over whether or not casino gambling should be made legal in the state. Should a ballot go in favor of supporters of such a move, it could edge the number of states that allow commercial gambling into the majority.
According to the Associated Press, supporters of legalized casinos have launched the petition in a bid to secure the issue on the 2020 ballot with financial backing from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
Lance Morgan, the CEO of Ho-Chunk, the corporation promoting the measure on behalf of the tribe, highlighted the loss of gaming revenue due to gamblers crossing state lines to patronize casinos in neighboring states. “Hundreds of millions of dollars go across the border every year,” he said. “For a Nebraskan to do gaming, you have to go half a mile. It’s the height of paternalism to try to try to restrict it.”
While Morgan is apparently confident that voters will approve legalization of casino gaming, the measure looks set to face Conservative opposition from the likes of Republican Governor Pete Ricketts and former University of Nebraska football coach and athletic director Tom Osborne. And similar ballot measures have already been defeated in 2004 and 2006.
As things currently stand, 25 states, including neighboring Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota, legislate for commercial casino gambling. Iowa casinos near Omaha, in particular, are a big draw for Nebraska gamblers.