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Lottery supporters oppose Nebraska casino gambling proposal

Lottery supporters oppose Nebraska casino gambling proposal

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Keno in Hickman

A video board displays the results of a new keno game every five minutes as regulars play cards and drink coffee at the Hickman Bar & Grill in 2017.

Supporters of local keno lotteries and the state lottery announced their opposition Wednesday to portions of the three-pronged initiative to authorize casino gambling at Nebraska horse racetracks, arguing that the proposal could effectively shut down their operations along with gaming conducted by Nebraska charities.

"A straight-forward reading of the plain language of Initiative 430 would restrict all games of chance in Nebraska to racetracks," the group Nebraska Cooperative Government said in a written statement.

And that could effectively remove the legal authority for bingo, raffles and pickle card gaming as currently conducted by Nebraska charities, keno lotteries by Nebraska cities, counties and villages, and the state lottery, the group said.

The language of the initiative proposal states: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law ... the operation of games of chance is permitted only by authorized gaming operators within licensed racetrack enclosures."

The initiative, which will be on Tuesday's general election ballot, was sponsored primarily by Ho-Chunk Inc., an economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

Nebraska Cooperative Government is a statewide entity created by more than 100 Nebraska counties, cities and villages for the purpose of administering a joint lottery within those communities.

Horse racetracks operate at or near Omaha, Lincoln, South Sioux City, Grand Island, Hastings and Columbus.

New tracks presumably could be added in communities throughout the state if the initiative is approved by Nebraska voters. 

Since 1990, current authorized gaming activities have generated $390 million in lottery sales and approximately $40 million in net lottery proceeds, which may be used only for "community betterment" purposes, Nebraska Cooperative Government stated.

Enactment of the initiative could result in "significant impairment to the economic viability of locally owned bars, taverns and restaurants which host those local government lotteries," the organization stated.

The 2020 Journal Star general election Voter's Guide

Your guide to Lincoln-area and statewide races and ballot questions that will appear on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. Click on a race name to see the candidates and learn about their views on the issues.

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Nebraska voters will decide whether to cap the maximum annual rates associated with payday loans at 36% following a successful ballot initiative.

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Republican Sen. Ben Sasse is seeking reelection to a second six-year term and will face Democratic nominee Chris Janicek of Omaha on the ballot.

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Forty-nine women and men serve in Nebraska's unique, one-house Legislature.

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Only one of the two seats on the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners up for election this year features a contested race.

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The University of Nebraska Board of Regents consists of eight members elected to serve six-year terms representing districts across the state.

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The State Board of Education sets state education policy and regulations, and oversees the Nebraska Department of Education.

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Nebraska holds three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Eastern Nebraska's 1st District includes Lincoln; the 2nd District includes Omaha; and the 3rd District encompasses western and central Nebraska, along with the northeastern and southeastern corners of the state.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSdon


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