Published: April 20, 2022

Western Nebraska casinos in waiting game as state explores adding new licensed horse tracks

NORTH PLATTE — Casino proponents in western Nebraska will be playing a waiting game based on legislation approved this month that stemmed from the November 2020 vote to approve casinos at licensed horse racetracks in the state.

The bill (LB876), which won 38-3 final approval in the Legislature, effectively puts new racetracks and associated casinos — including proposals for North Platte, Ogallala, Gering and Kimball — on hold while market and socioeconomic studies take place.

Global Gaming Nebraska

The bill signed by Gov. Pete Ricketts directs the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission to complete the studies “as soon as practicable” but no later than Jan. 1, 2025. Similar studies would be required every five years.

Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte said he considers LB876 “a way to keep the process moving forward” while heading off calls for a five- to seven-year moratorium on any new tracks.

“I am still not completely satisfied with the provisions in LB876 and will continue to work to fast-track North Platte’s proposed project,” he said. “I think there is a way to grow the racing industry responsibly while shortening the timeline for western Nebraska applications.”

© Public Gaming Research Institute. All rights reserved.