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WHAT'S NEXT FOR CASINO GAMBLING IN NEBRASKA
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WHAT'S NEXT FOR CASINO GAMBLING IN NEBRASKA

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Don't look for slot machines or roulette wheels at local horse race tracks anytime soon. It will take time to implement the three initiatives passed last week.

Once the vote is certified at the end of November, the new Nebraska Gaming Commission must be created and get to work drawing up rules, regulations and procedures for licensing and regulating the new race track casinos.

That is, if the measures are not challenged in court. Gov. Pete Ricketts, a gambling opponent, said he is not aware of any legal challenges in the works and has asked his team to look at next steps in the process.

There are six licensed tracks in Nebraska, which could open casinos under the initiatives: Fonner Park in Grand Island, Atokad in South Sioux City, the Lincoln Race Course in Lincoln, Horsemen's Park in Omaha, Fairplay Park in Hastings and Ag Park in Columbus.

The first casinos may be at the Omaha and Lincoln tracks, which are operated by the Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. That group has an agreement for Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, to develop and manage casinos at those two tracks.

Lance Morgan, Ho-Chunk CEO, said the company already is at work designing those casinos and planning for one at Atokad, which Ho-Chunk owns. If all goes smoothly, he hopes the casinos can open late next year.

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