Preliminary regulations for future casinos at Nebraska horse tracks have now been released. The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission released last Friday a 67-page document detailing directives that upcoming gambling venues at the six licensed racetracks in the state will have to follow.
Among the most important regulations, companies that plan to open a casino at a racetrack will have to pay a $1 million license fee upfront for a permit, which lasts 20 years. Gambling facilities are also required to be smoke-free, and only law enforcement or licensed security officers are permitted to carry a firearm in them, reports KOLN.
Casino gambling at horse tracks was first approved by state voters in November of 2020. The Racing and Gaming Commission is now set to hold a public hearing of the newly-proposed rules on December 17.
“The regulations are very comprehensive,” said Lynne McNally, executive vice president of Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “They’re heavy on security, integrity, background investigations, all of the things you need to maintain honestly across the industry.” McNally further said she is excited the process is now moving forward.
While companies that want to open a casino will be the only ones paying the $1 million fees, other parties involved with the venues are also expected to pay for permits. Vendor licensing fees are set to cost up to $5,000 for three years, plus annual fees; while key operator fees could range from $10,000-$15,000.
Should the rules be approved in December, the next step would be for them to head to the Governor’s office for final approval, a process that has no timeline set. However, it would likely be early next year before tracks can apply for licenses.
“We’re really looking forward to the public hearing on December 17th”, added McNally, according to KLKN. “Hopefully they’ll be advanced to the Governor’s desk, and then just waiting for him to act. I’m sure he’ll act in a very efficient manner so that this whole process can start and we can break ground on these new facilities.”
In addition to all six licensed horse tracks in the state -Lincoln, Omaha, South Sioux City, Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings-, six additional racetracks have been proposed in Bellevue, Gering, Kimball, Norfolk, North Platte, and York.
The Nebraska Racing & Gaming Commission took into account suggestions from the public and industry in the regulations. Racing and Gaming Executive Director Tom Sage also said a consultant helped the state draft its rules by looking at what has worked well in other states. It is expected that casinos will help revitalize Nebraska’s horse racing industry.