2016 Ballots in Nebraska Won’t Include Gambling


2016 Ballots in Nebraska Won’t Include Gambling

Though it was proposed that Nebraska allow casinos within its state lines, the issue did not make the November 2016 ballot. A petition was circulating to have gambling included on the ballot but it failed to accumulate the number of valid signatures necessary to include it in the next election. John Gale, Secretary of State, has reported that 41,170 of the 119,666 signatures on the petition were not accepted by local election officials.

The over 24,000 signatures in total that were rejected from the petition were rejected because it could not be verified that the people resided in the county the petition was meant for. Almost 4,600 rejected signatures were deemed to be duplicates and over 3,000 were rejected because those who signed them had not registered to vote.

Organizers of this petition paid a total of almost $1.4 million over a 10 month period in which their goal was to have gambling included on the ballot. The majority of the $1.4 million was paid by an economic development corporation in the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska called Ho -Chunk, Inc.

Ho-Chunk, Inc’s owner made an effort to look into the failure of the petition. He sought out information from the company that was tasked with collecting the petition’s signatures in order to determine why the error rate was so high.

The goal of the corporation in spending this money was to resurrect a closed down race track in South Sioux City by reopening it and adding a casino to it. Atokad Downs is the racetrack they were trying to reopen after its 2012 closing. This is not the first time that there has been a movement to get gambling onto a ballot in Nebraska.

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska was pushing this issue due to the fact that Sioux City, Iowa’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino opened in 2014 and caused them to lose money. Hard Rock was competition for Sloan Iowa’s WinnaVegas Casino Resort.

Organizers of the petition have not been able to pinpoint where everything went wrong in their effort to accomplish their goal of bringing gambling to Nebraska. They also tried unsuccessfully to circulate two other petitions on the subject, both of which required fewer signatures than the most recent one did. However, this may have led to confusion as three petitions were circulating at the same time. The mix up is also partly being blamed on the fact that the petition did not surface and begin circulation until after the most recent football season began. This meant that the petition couldn’t be circulated among those in Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium, which was thought to be the best place to get signatures for the petition.

Part of the proposal the organizers included in the petition were new state laws that would dictate the ways in which tax revenue would be divided among the casinos. The petition was launched as part of what was referred to as the Keep The Money in Nebraska drive.

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