Earlier this week, a proposed piece of legislation seeking to expand the gambling options for the residents of Nebraska gained traction.
The piece of legislation, called Legislative Bill 876, was officially introduced to local lawmakers at the beginning of January 2021. The primary sponsor of the bill is Senator Tom Briese, who also serves as a chair of Nebraska’s General Affairs Committee. It seeks the expansion of the casino gambling industry in Nebraska, while at the same time making sure that the number of casinos in the state would not be too large.
After becoming introduced in January, the proposed piece of legislation sponsored by Senator Briese managed to successfully pass three debates held by the Nebraska lawmakers. On March 29th, the LB 876 received significant support from legislators and, as a result, it was tabled for Enrollment and Review Initial. A total of 34 Nebraskan lawmakers voted in favor of the proposed bill, while 15 abstained from voting or were excused. No state lawmakers voted against the bill.
Under the provisions of the proposed piece of legislation, Nebraskan counties that currently host licensed horseracing tracks are set to be permitted to establish a casino venue. Currently, there are six counties featuring horseracing facilities in the state – dams, Dakota, Douglass, Hall, Lancaster, and Platte.
LB 876 Suggests Bigger Casino Licensing Fees and More Racing Tracks Race Days
The updated version of the bill requires horse race tracks to have no less than five race days every year. The proposal marks an increase from the current annual race days minimum. The bill also provisions to further boost the minimum of race days to 15.
Legislative Bill 876 also calls for a change to be brought in the casino licensing fees in Nebraska – to $5 million from $1 million. In addition, licensed casino companies would have to pay a $50,000 fee on an annual basis.
The proposed piece of legislation also calls for the implementation of some measures that would back responsible gambling, such as the offering of self-exclusion options for gambling addicts or gamblers who are considered at risk.
Some critics of the Legislative Bill 876 believe that the piece of legislation may have one major flaw. The bill would restrict the establishment of new horse race tracks or casino venues for several more years, until 2025. Under the proposed piece of legislation, the state’s gambling regulatory body – the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission – would be required to carry out a study that would seek to evaluate the impact casinos and racetracks have on the local economy and society. The studies would have to be completed by January 1st, 2025.
If the proposed bill is signed into law, it would still impose some restrictions on the establishment of new casinos or racetracks until the required research is finalized by the state’s gambling watchdog. Legislative passage will also be needed by LB 876 in order to come into effect, with the Governor also having an obligation to sign it into law.