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York and Bellevue Apply to Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission for the Establishment of Two New Racetracks

Now that Nebraska voters have given the green light to casino gambling at race tracks across the state, the establishment of new horse racing tracks in York and Bellevue is being suggested, in what has been described by a long-time anti-gambling advocate as the first wave of race track and casino expansion in the state.

In November 2020, the residents of the state gave an overwhelming approval of the addition of legal casino gambling services in Nebraska as long as they are tied to a horse racing track. The legislative measure paved the way to bolstering the horse racing industry of the state and keep the money flow generated by gambling operations in Nebraska.

Currently, there are six horse racing tracks on the territory of Nebraska – in Columbus, Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings, South Sioux City and Grand Island.

Since the November election ballot, casino venue projects have been unveiled at five out of these six tracks. The Winnebago Tribe’s economic development corporation, Ho-Chunk, is set to operate casino entities in Lincoln, Omaha and South Sioux City under the WarHorse Gaming LCC brand. Harrah’s has also unveiled plans to establish a $75-million racetrack and casino complex in Columbus, while Elite Casino Resorts has been chosen to operate Grand Island’s Fonner Park casino.

The New Racetracks Could Feature Casino Gambling but Only to Support Main Operations

The expansion of legal gambling services in the state has pushed other communities in Nebraska, to express their willingness to establish and operate a racetrack venue in pursuit of an eventual casino operation.

York and Bellevue have been the first applicants for the establishment of a new racetrack that do not already run a racetrack in Nebraska.

Bellevue’s effort to build a racetrack is headed by John Hassett, who owns the Bellevue and Plattsmouth keno establishment, as well as over 60 other satellite keno parlors across the state through his Advanced Gaming Technologies. For the time being, Bellevue is the largest city in the state that does not have a horse race track. As Mr. Hassett shared, his primary interest is the establishment of a horse track, while the potential addition of a casino would only support the track by providing more money for larger projects.

The proposal involves the establishment of a track called Belle Vue Downs (The Vue) and is set to be situated on a 120-acre site at the corner of US 75 and Capehart Road. As revealed by Mr. Hassett in his application, his company would start the construction of the casino right after it gets the necessary approval. The grandstand of the race track project would accommodate around 2,000 spectators. A hotel is also set to be constructed as part of the project.

The York efforts for the construction of a new racetrack are associated with the Jensen and Alt families who have joined forces in a corporation called TopGun LLC to pursue the project. The two families have secured rights to the land where the racetrack is set to be established, with the project also involving the establishment of a hotel, casino, pool and two dining areas.

According to the application filed by the families to Nebraskan authorities, the racetrack itself is set to be run by Freedom Bay LLC, a non-profit organization. The track of the Jansen and Alt families is set to be called Freedom Bay Race track.

The two horse racing tracks have been included in the agenda of the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission’s meeting that will take place on July 16th. A simple majority of the six-member commission is needed for a horserace track application to be approved. For the time being, it remains unclear whether the commission will vote on the applications in July or a subsequent meeting is to be scheduled especially for the vote.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.