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Published on January 30th, 2014 | by Steve Gardman

Nebraska Seeks Gambling Approval

Gamblers in Nebraska may be next in line to enjoy playing their favorite casino games and wager at casinos in the state. According to reports in the Sioux City Journal, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska is confident of having at least one proposal to legalize gambling passed in the legislature this year. If approved, Nebraska would permit Las Vegas style casino gambling while the state won’t lose out to neighboring states with casinos. The first hearing on the bill is likely to be held in February and features a host of benefits for the state. The bill proposes 25 percent of the tax revenue to go to the development of public schools while 50 percent of tax generated going towards the reduction of property taxes throughout the state.

The second gambling bill proposes the acceptance of betting on historic horse races through video terminals. According to the state’s constitution, table games and slots are prohibited. Several attempts have been made in the state to legalize casinos. However, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska have persisted in their attempts and plan to set up a $30 million casino investment at the site of the former Atokad horse track South Sioux City, if lawmakers manage to get the bill passed.

Lance Morgan, president and CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., the Winnebago Tribe’s economic development corporation, was of the opinion that it was more of a question of when and not if the gambling bill is passed in some form. Getting Ho-Chunk’s vision for the $30 million casino in South Sioux City off the ground requires considerable amendments to Nebraska’s constitution which as mentioned earlier prohibits Las Vegas style table and slots games.

Opponents of gambling in the state have continued to stall a series of legislative efforts to gain approval of Las Vegas style table and slots games. Proponents of gambling like Sen. Russ Karpisek, of Wilber haven’t given up yet. Despite being in his last year in office Karpisek pushed for a constitutional amendment for the approval of casino gambling this fall. Ho-Chunk Inc. has two registered lobbyists working hard on the proposals. Currently, every state that borders Nebraska including Colorado, Kansas and Missouri has casinos. According to Sen. Karpisek, the state loses as much as $400 million per year to Iowa, as its residents cross over the Missouri River to place wagers at casinos in the city of Council Bluffs.

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