The Nebraska Senate recently voted 25-18 to approve a measure allowing statewide voters to decide in November if racetracks can allow bets on previously run horseraces. State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh said his constitutional amendment would save jobs in the horseracing industry. Governor Dave Heineman vetoed another Lautenbaugh measure in 2012 that would have allowed the State Racing Commission to license and regulate historic horse racing. A constitutional amendment does not require the governor’s approval.
“It’s important for the tracks that we do have,” Lautenbaugh said. Greg Hosch, general manager at Horsemen’s Park in Omaha, added, “We’re all about live racing in the state and with live racing comes nothing but jobs and more jobs.” He said more funding is necessary to construct facilities for live racing.
State Senator Dave Bloomfield voted against the bill, noting he would support a constitutional measure if there was a clear and honest resolution on expanding gambling to present to voters. “Don’t bring me a slot machine and tell me it’s a horse,” he said. His colleague state Senator Beau McCoy also voted against the bill, stating he did not consider historic racing to be a type of pari-mutuel gambling, which is allowed by the state’s constitution. “This is a burgeoning court and legal issue and I would humbly submit that we are setting ourselves to spend taxpayer dollars defending this in court if this advances and the people vote on this,” McCoy said.
But Hosch said this type of wagering is legal, because pari-mutuel betting involves betting against other bettors and machines that run historic horseraces also use a pool.