Nebraska Casino Expansion Doubts Arise Following New Study

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The subject of casino expansion in Nebraska is once again being debated. A few years ago, the residents voted to welcome casino gambling, leading to the recognition of six racetrack licensees eligible to develop casinos. These racetracks are spread across Lincoln, South Sioux City, Grand Island, Omaha, Columbus, and Hastings.

In contrast, advocates for expansion are pushing for the establishment of casinos in six additional locations: Kimball, Norfolk, York, North Platte, Bellevue, and Fremont. Unfortunately, though, a recent decision by the gambling regulation authority in the state looks set to delay the proposed expansion.

Study Suggests No Need for Expansion

A study recently found that the current number of racetracks in Nebraska is fitting, suggesting that there is no need for new racing licenses. Following this study, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission, last week, unanimously supported a motion calling for a committee to decide on the validity of the current study or if another one should be conducted.

Dennis Lee, the commission’s chairman and an attorney from Omaha, argued that the study in question was not comprehensive.

I’m not sure there’s enough data (in the current study) to allow the commission to make a good judgment on any expansion of current racetracks beyond our current facilities.

Dennis LeeNebraska Racing and Gaming Commission Chairman

Enough Capacity for Market Growth

The study, conducted by The Innovation Group, found that the state’s current number of racing licenses is ample. It argued that the existing licensees possess more than enough capacity to foster market growth in Nebraska.

It was carried out due to state laws that require thorough market analysis about the potential impact of new horse racetracks and land-based casinos on the current market before green-lighting expansion. The existing rules stipulate that if a new project could significantly disrupt the operations of established racetracks and casinos, it should not be approved.

During the recent commission meeting, Tom Zitt, representing the firm behind the report, acknowledged that the study did not provide a complete overview of the potential impact of new casinos and racetracks due to the limited racing dates. Despite this, racetrack officials criticized The Innovation Group for not visiting or soliciting data from the racetracks, which could have aided the study.

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