Frequently Asked Questions
Nebraskans have a lot of questions when it comes to deciding on whether to expand casino gaming or not – and rightfully so. Some questions surround who will run the casinos, some question what the benefits will be, while others question the potential social ills that come with gambling. Below are some of the questions asked most frequently, along with answers:
Will the casinos be built and owned by wealthy, out-of-state individuals, companies or Las Vegas casinos?
RESPONSE: When we say, “Keep the money in Nebraska,” we mean all of it. The six proposed locations are all currently licensed horse racing tracks owned by Nebraska companies and organizations employing Nebraskans and paying Nebraska taxes. We’re aggressively working to bolster Nebraska’s economy, not Nevada’s.
Horse Race Tracks & Owners:
- Atokad/South Sioux City – South Sioux City Racing & Events Center, Inc./South Sioux City Exposition and Racing/Ho-Chunk, Inc.
- Lincoln Race Course/Lincoln – Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association
- Horsemen’s Park/Omaha – Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association
- Fonner Park/Grand Island – Hall County Ag Society
- Fairplay Park/Hastings – Hastings Exposition & Racing/Brian Becker
- Platte County AG Park/Columbus – Columbus Exposition and Racing, Inc./The Platte County Ag Society
The two organizations backing the expanded casino gaming petition are both from Nebraska: Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Ho-Chunk, Inc.
How will expanded casino gaming in Nebraska help with property tax relief?
RESPONSE: Legalizing casino gaming will actually generate a new tax revenue stream for Nebraska, of which a large portion is earmarked for property tax relief. All the recent efforts by the Governor and the Legislative basically move funds from one area of the budget to another, with no effort to bring in additional revenue. An estimated $500 million or more is being spent by Nebraskans in casinos in neighboring states — that’s $80-$120 million in new tax revenue that could be used to aid property tax relief and more across the state, instead of sending it to all our surrounding states.
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Kiplinger reports: “While the cost of housing is comparatively low in the Cornhusker State, the average property tax rate in the state is quite high. For a $400,000 home, the state-wide average tax in Nebraska comes to $7,421 per year. That’s the eighth-highest property tax amount in our U.S. rankings, and it’s the primary reason why Nebraska is on the least tax-friendly list. Nebraska’s middle of the road income and sales taxes aren’t enough to counter the state’s high property tax rate.”Report
According to an April 3, 2019 Lincoln Journal Star Editorial: Nebraska has long needed structural reforms to how farmland and ranchland are valued to reduce the crushing burden of property taxes that has fallen on agricultural producers.
The Nebraska Department of Revenue reports that property taxes levied on land zoned as agricultural increased from $476 million statewide in 2007 to $1.2 billion in 2017 – an increase of 152 percent in a decade. This trend, of course, flew in the face of commodity prices that plummeted over the same span.”*
Legalizing gaming in Nebraska could go a long way to reducing the property tax burden for agricultural producers — and home owners. Seems like Keeping the Money in Nebraska with casino gaming is a positive start for our ag producers.
Here’s another article about ranchers challenging Gov. on property tax relief:Article
Won’t the tax revenue will be limited to the six counties/cities
where the horse racing tracks are located?
RESPONSE: The proposed ballot measures will direct 75% of the tax revenue to statewide property tax relief and a variety of Nebraska events and organizations.
The measures are worded to ensure that the largest segment of tax revenue from casinos will be dedicated to property tax relief. The measures will also provide funds for the Nebraska State Fair, Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund, as well as the state’s general fund. The remaining 25% of gaming tax revenues will be distributed to the county/city/village where each licensed racetrack is located
Won’t Nebraska face an uphill battle against familiar,
established casinos in the surrounding states?
RESPONSE: The gaming industry is projecting notable growth in employment and revenue over the next 5 years. In fact, the gaming industry surpassed the commercial airline industry years ago in number of jobs, and that’s projected to increase annually by 1.4%. (Source: *IBISWorld Industry Report 71329)
Don’t casinos create a litany of social challenges including increased crime, divorce, suicide and poverty rates?
RESPONSE: The U.S. Department of Justice debunked this myth years ago. Their study was specific to new casino jurisdictions and showed no statistical changes to any of these social issues once a casino is built. The Governor’s stance that for every dollar in gaming revenue made, it takes three dollars to pay for social ills is simply not true. In fact, since gaming has been available in all the states surrounding Nebraska for years, Nebraskans have already been gambling an estimated $500 million a year.
“The findings suggest that casinos do not affect all communities in a simple, similar, or nonvariant fashion. The evidence suggests that casinos appear to be neither as good for a community as supporters contend, nor as negative as opponents argue.”
–Effects of Casino Gambling on Crime and Quality of Life in New Casino Jurisdictions, Final Report (U.S. Department of Justice)