Nebraska

Casinos do not harm other forms of gambling in Nebraska, at least not yet

This story was originally published in the Nebraska Examiner.

LINCOLN. The first results are already in, and the appearance of casinos in Nebraska has not affected the spending on charity gambling – at least not yet.

In the last quarter of 2022, Nebraska residents wagered $97.2 million on keno, pickle cards, bingo and the state lottery, up nearly 5% from July, August and September, according to a report released Thursday.

The state’s first legal gaming casino, WarHorse Casino, opened in late September at Lincoln’s Thoroughbred Racecourse, creating new competition for charity games.

But Brian Rocky, director of the state lottery and charity games, said on Thursday that despite the numbers, it’s probably too early to tell if competition from casinos will hurt other forms of gaming.

“When full-scale casinos are open, things can be different,” he said.

The WarHorse Casino operates in a converted simulcast facility until a $200 million casino and hotel complex is built around it in southwest Lincoln. The casino, which opened at Grand Island’s Fonner Park Racecourse, also operates in temporary facilities.

The temporary casino at Horseman’s Park in Omaha is not expected to be ready until this spring.

Nebraska voters legalized casino gambling in 2020, allowing such gambling only at licensed racetracks. A portion of the proceeds went towards property tax relief.

Rocky said state lotteries in other states have seen rates drop by 10% since the introduction of the casino. But, according to him, this is probably the worst-case scenario.

The only form of charity game that saw declines in October, November and December was bingo, where bets dropped from $1.2 million in the third quarter to $1.1 million in the final quarter.

The so-called “racinos” are scheduled to appear at racetracks in Omaha, Lincoln, Columbus, Grand Island, South Sioux City and Hastings.

A bill introduced in the Nebraska Legislature seeks to allow casinos to open west of Cozad.

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