Opponents say casinos will hurt Nebraska

Tom Osborne speaks against a gambling proposal Monday (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)
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October 5, 2020 - 4:26pm

Opponents of a ballot proposal to allow casinos at Nebraska horse tracks said Monday it would hurt the state, economically and socially.


Supporters of allowing casinos at the state’s racetracks argue Nebraskans are already gambling in neighboring states, and legalizing casinos here would keep the money in Nebraska. But in a Capitol news conference Monday, opponents disputed that claim.

Pat Loontjer of Gambling With The Good Life, an opposition organization, said approving the proposal which is on the November ballot would open a can of worms that couldn’t be closed.

Loontjer’s point was picked up by former NU football coach and congressman Tom Osborne.

“Nebraska always ranks high in quality of living – usually in the top 10 or 15 percent of all the states. And so that means cost of living’s low, education is good, health care is good and in general, (so is) well-being and happiness of the people. And we feel that these initiatives will certainly damage that quality of living,” Osborne said.

Dan Hazuka of Gambling With The Good Life argued against the idea that since Nebraskans can already gamble in neighboring states, allowing casinos here would not increase social costs.

“The closer proximity (in which) you bring gambling to your home or your town, the more people get addicted to it. So, it’s over there and you might have a number of people that get addicted to it. But if you bring it over here you will see a lot more devastation,” Hazuka said.

Loontjer argued  the proposal’s wording would allow online gambling and casinos at Native American-owned trust lands across the state, assertions denied by Lynne McNally of Keep the Money in Nebraska.

Also on hand to oppose the gambling proposal were  Gov. Pete Ricketts and former Gov. Kay Orr, who said former Govs. Bob Kerrey, Mike Johanns and Dave Heineman also opposed it.

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