Nebraska Casinos Possible Impact on Iowa Gambling Industry
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Casino officials in Iowa are concerned because they feel they may lose a big part of their casino business to the Nebraska state. This comes after the residents of Nebraska allowed commercial gambling in the state. Some Iowa casino officials have expressed their fears that establishing commercial casinos in Nebraska could significantly hurt Iowa’s state gaming revenues.
Nebraska Passed Three Casino-Related Constitutional Amendments
Last week, Nebraska voters approved three constitutional amendments designed to legalize casino gambling at the six licensed horse tracks in the state. These amendments are also aimed at ensuring that the gambling industry would be well regulated. Some of the revenue collected from casino gambling would help property owners by acting as a tax credit.
In Nebraska, most people who support casino commercial gambling at various licensed race tracks are eager to open the casinos within the shortest time possible. They are also planning to grow these casinos online into larger venues such as restaurants, hotels, dining areas, among other amenities. Nebraska gambling supporters are confident that they will reclaim a good portion of the approximately $500 million that gamblers from Nebraska spend yearly in Iowa casinos and other states.
What Does This Mean to the Iowa Gambling Industry?
Two-thirds of the total votes cast favored the initiatives 429, 430, and 431. These initiatives permit casino gambling at horse-racing tracks in Nebraska state and the Lincoln Race Course. Casinos located in Council Bluffs are likely to suffer the most as they sit near Nebraska’s border. Four casinos operate in the city in total. These developments have dealt a significant blow to the Iowa casinos that are still recovering from COVID-19 effects. The president of the Iowa Gaming Association, Wes Ehrecke, acknowledged that such a scenario could affect the industry.
How Will Nebraska Benefit from the New Gambling-Related Constitutional Amendments?
According to Michael Newlin, the general manager of Horseman’s Park in Lincoln and Omaha Race Course, the proposed new casinos will come with a lot of advantages to Nebraska state. He believes that the casinos are likely to improve horse-racing activities in the region due to the profits they will bring in. This is after the horse racing industry kept declining in the country for decades now. The new amendments will ensure that these activities are revived and nurtured to flourish and grow back to the same way they were several decades ago. Newlin claimed that Nebraska would start receiving more owners and trainers from Iowa within the next three to five years.
Gary Palme, the General manager of Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, Iowa, claimed that he was not convinced that the proposed casinos would impact the horse racing industry in the region. According to him, the casinos would help Iowa’s horse racing business because it is likely to bring up more circulation of horses in the Midwest. This would, in turn, go a long way in boosting this region’s economy. He further stresses that the nationwide inventory of horses is down now. Hence this is one of the most important issues that will need to be resolved.
Nebraska Aiming to Revive a Struggling Industry
In Nebraska, racing tracks such as the Lincoln Race Course will help introduce more days of live racing activities where horse racing lovers can enjoy watching their favorite horse racers battling it out with one another. In Southwest Lincoln, plans aimed at building permanent barns are already underway. The 7/8th mile track is already complete.
The proposed amendments were pushed by Keep the Money in Nebraska. They got most of its funding from Ho-Chunk Inc. These measures were then pitched to voters to help Nebraska reclaim some of the revenue it loses from residents crossing state borders to play blackjack and pull slots in other states such as Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and South Dakota. It is believed that the project could help to take in approximately $65 million every year by taxing the casino revenue.
The Future Looks Bright for the Nebraska Gambling Industry
Besides Lincoln, Nebraska is also aiming to build casinos at Fonner Park in Grand Island, Horsemen’s Park in Omaha, Atokad in South Sioux City, AG Park in Columbus, and Hastings. This comes as good news for Nebraska in the middle of a pandemic, where most states are still trying to find ways of dealing with it. Nebraska is likely to see the return of most people who had opted to gamble in casinos located in neighboring states. In turn, this will help the state earn more revenue that will assist in coping with the pandemic. On the other hand, Iowa will be hoping that necessary measures are undertaken as soon as possible to ensure that they find ways of recovering revenue that is likely to be lost due to these developments happening in Nebraska.