SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – After decades of rejecting casino gambling, Nebraska voters overwhelmingly approved measures Tuesday to allow it at state-licensed horse racing tracks.
There’s been some hurdles along the way for those in favor of legalizing gambling in Nebraska.
Back in September, opponents fought hard to keep the issue off the ballot, filing a lawsuit that was rejected by the Nebraska Supreme Court.
“It was a big accomplishment even getting it on the ballot and then once it got on there it approved vary easily and that tells me just looking at it that people are okay with it and are approving it,” said South Sioux City Mayor Rod Koch.
In Nebraska, only limited forms of gambling are currently available like keno.
The initiative passing Tuesday night changes that. The state constitution will now allow slot machines and table gambling at horse tracks in Nebraska.
“Were in a tri state community and the other states around us all have it so the people are going to do it anyway so they have approved it in Nebraska the people voted it in and we’re going to support it,” said Koch.
Ho-Chunk, the economic development division of the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska, owns Atokad in South Sioux City. President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Morgan said he hopes that the horse track can bring in people looking for something to do.
“What I’m really hoping is that it’s gaming, its horse racing, it’s entertainment, and if you want to go to a place to watch a game, or hangout, or have some fun, or have a good quality meal, it’s just one more entertainment option in our community,” said Morgan.
Morgan said Ho-Chuck is making investments at horse racing sites in Omaha, Lincoln, and South Sioux City will come with a price tag around $300 million.
“We anticipate it being a very competitive local casino in the market, so we will do a good job and we will begin as soon as possible and I think it will be good for everybody,” said Morgan.
That’s something Koch is looking forward to.
“Restaurants, hotels, shopping that brings people to town, they start using our facilities and our amenities and that will create an increase in employees to help maintain those businesses,” said Koch.