LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Groups that want to legalize casino gambling in Nebraska are reviving a petition drive that seeks to put the issue before voters next year.
The campaign committee Keep the Money in Nebraska is preparing a proposed constitutional amendment for the November 2020 ballot that would allow gambling at state-licensed horse racing tracks. The effort was announced Thursday by Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
Organizers argue that Nebraska is losing tax revenue from gambling to neighboring states, including Iowa, whose western casinos cater heavily to Nebraska residents. A 2013 study ordered by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission found that Nebraska residents spent nearly $327 million at Iowa casinos.
"Nebraskans' money is funding other states' priorities," Ho-Chunk President and CEO Lance Morgan said in a statement. "There's a lot of good this money can do right here in Nebraska."
Gambling opponents who have helped defeat past ballot measures say casinos lead to increased bankruptcies, embezzlements and families torn apart by gambling addiction.
A similar Nebraska petition drive failed in 2016 when the secretary of state's office announced that supporters didn't submit enough verified signatures to place the issue on the ballot. Organizers turned in nearly 120,000 signatures, which would have been enough, but nearly 42,000 were rejected as invalid.
Ho-Chunk Inc. is working with the Nebraska Benevolent Protection Association, a nonprofit group of thoroughbred owners and trainers.
Organizers say they're using a new signature collection group for this attempt.
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