Earlier Friday, Albion State Sen. Tom Briese, chairman of the general affairs committee, responded to the influx of new track-and-casino proposals by announcing that he would limit the number of casinos in the state.
He said he would enact laws in January that will limit the number of casino licenses that could be approved, although he has not yet decided what that number should look like. He wants to work out this number in consultation with other senators, the public and industry.
“In my view, limiting the number of such operations is in line with both the will of the electorate and the values of Nebraska,” said Briese, adding that it would be more difficult to regulate a larger number of casinos.
Voters passed a trio of ballot initiatives last year that authorized the casinos. The measures included a constitutional amendment that allowed casino gambling on licensed horse racing tracks and two laws that regulate casinos and use most of the tax revenue for property tax relief.
At the time of voting, Nebraska had six racetracks in Grand Island, Omaha, Lincoln, South Sioux City, Columbus, and Hastings, giving the potential for six casinos.
The five new tracks are proposed for Bellevue, York, Norfolk, North Platte and Scottsbluff.
Keno operator John Hassett presented plans for a course called Belle Vue Downs or The Vue that would offer quarter horse races and be combined with a casino. He said the focus would be on racing, not the casino, and that the project would bring economic development to the city.