Nebraska official says gambling initiatives not ready for November ballot

Nebraska’s Secretary of State announced Tuesday that three gambling initiatives don’t follow the law and are too confusing to be placed on the November ballot.
Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 1:27 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2020 at 1:29 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska’s Secretary of State announced Tuesday that three gambling initiatives don’t follow the law and are too confusing to be placed on the November ballot.

The initiative petitions include a proposed state constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling at racetracks, along with two proposed laws that would regulate and tax casino gaming, the release from Nebraska Secretary of State Robert B. Evnen’s office states.

The three initiative petitions all had the same primary purpose, according to the release: “to permit currently prohibited games of chance to be conducted in Nebraska.”

In particular, one initiative was to allow games of chance at racetracks, which Evnen said included a provision that also allowed gambling on tribal lands, regardless of whether a racetrack was present. Another had provisions for property tax relief — but only if the first initiative was put into effect, the release states.

Evnen’s comments were issued in a response to attorneys for three Nebraska citizens who wrote to object to the initiatives as well as attorneys for the sponsors of the petitions.

“The Constitutional right to bring forward initiative petitions for a vote of the people is fundamental to our state governance and is to be zealously protected,” he said in the response. “…Part of the protection of the right of initiative is to assure that such petitions are neither misleading nor manipulative.”

According to the release from Evnen’s office, the three initiatives are sponsored by Keep the Money in Nebraska Inc., the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, Ho-Chunk Inc., and Omaha Exposition & Racing.

The required number of signatures for each initiative was put forth, according to the release. A court review of the decision is likely.

The Secretary of State is required to certify the general election ballot by Sept. 11.

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