Pro-casino groups are pushing for the legalization of a casino-style gaming at Nebraska horse tracks, saying that they have more than enough signatures to get the issue on the November ballot.
Keep the Money in Nebraska, a group backed by Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, is confident that the thousands of pages of signature they have compiled will be more than enough to satisfy the state statutes in order for the measure to be included in November polls.
Former state senator and now pro-casino campaign spokesman Scott Lautenbaugh said the group spent months at festivals, sporting events and concerts asking Nebraskans to sign petitions to put three questions on the November ballot that would allow casinos to be built in the state.
And before Thursday’s deadline, Lautenbaugh claimed that they had more than enough signatures to show to Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale that Nebraskans wanted a casino-style gaming in their state.
“This is a statewide effort so signatures are still coming in from remote places. We’re counting and gathering.There is activity going on all over the place,” Lautenbaugh told Lincoln Journal Star. “Now we have to get through the verification process and any legal challenge there and we will set about convincing the voters. It will be like a conventional campaign at that point.”
According to the process, Gale will give local officials forty days to verify the signatures that Keep the Money has submitted. Then, his office counts the number of valid signatures and certifies the measures for November.
Without citing any specific study, Lautenbaugh pointed out that every state bordering Nebraska has some form of legalized gambling, and Nebraskans are spending $500 million a year in those states.
Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, has been Keep the Money in Nebraska’s major benefactor, donating most of the $1.25 million the group raised as of June 25, its most recent campaign statement.
Ho-Chunk President and CEO Lance Morgan said Nebraskans are tired of seeing millions of entertainment dollars pour into Iowa casinos. A report created for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission said Nebraska residents spent $327 million at Iowa casinos in 2013.