Nebraska Supreme Court Allows Casino Gaming Bills on Ballot

Nebraska Supreme Court Allows Casino Gaming Bills on Ballot
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The Nebraska Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that three measures to legalize casino gaming at the state’s horse tracks should be placed on the November ballot.

In its ruling the court said:

”We conclude that none of the initiatives is legally insufficient and that all three should be placed on the ballot. By separate order, the alternative writ is vacated; a writ of mandamus is issued by separate order ordering the Secretary to place all three initiatives on the ballot.”

RELATED: More about Nebraska gaming

One bill would allow gambling, amending the state constitution to permit it. Another is intended to change state law to authorize and regulate casinos. And the third initiative concerns where the tax revenue from gambling would go, according to the Associated Press.

The Supreme Court, in its ruling, said the measures are broken into three separate items that can be considered individually by voters, AP reported. The ruling came one day before the legal deadline to certify the measure for the ballot.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs – the MLB team that just signed a deal with DraftKings to put a sportsbook at Wrigley Field – opposed the ballot measures to legalize gambling, according to AP. Ricketts, a Republican, has said previously he may use his own money to try to fight the measures.

Secretary of State Blocked Measures

Secretary of State Bob Evnen in August blocked the three bills from appearing before voters. Supporters of the ballot measures filed an immediate legal challenge, eventually sending the issue to the Supreme Court.

Lynne McNally, speaking for Keep the Money in Nebraska, the sponsors of a petition drive to get the three bills on the ballot, told the Lincoln Journal-Star at the time that Evnen’s ruling was "incorrect as a matter of law because each of the three initiatives meets the applicable requirements of the Nebraska Constitution as to form and procedure.”

The Supreme Court concurred.

Evnen said in August that the language of the initiatives violated state law because they failed to address a single subject, the AP reported. Supporters of expanded gambling told the Supreme Court they divided the issue into three initiatives to comply with the single-subject requirement.

Keep the Money in Nebraska said it had about 475,000 signatures for the three petitions, with each having more signatures than needed, according to AP.

Nebraska has four tribal casinos. The state has been losing tax revenue to nearby states with legalized gambling such as Iowa.

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