Here are things you should know about betting at racetrack casinos in Nebraska.
Horse racing tracks are being proposed for Bellevue and York, now that Nebraska voters have approved trackside casinos.
And a longtime opponent of gaming in Nebraska believes this is the first wave in a tide of tracks and casinos across the state.
In November, Nebraskans overwhelmingly approved casino gambling as long as it was tied to a horse track. The measure was seen as a way to bolster the state’s horse racing industry and keep gambling revenues in Nebraska.
Nebraska already has six horse racing tracks, in Grand Island, Hastings, Omaha, South Sioux City, Columbus and Lincoln. Since the November election, casinos have been announced at five of those tracks.
Ho-Chunk, the economic development corporation for the Winnebago Tribe, will manage casinos in Omaha, Lincoln and South Sioux City under the name WarHorse Gaming LCC.
Harrah’s also has announced plans to build a $75 million casino and racetrack complex in Columbus.
And Iowa-based Elite Casino Resorts has been selected as the casino operator for Grand Island’s Fonner Park.
Other Nebraska communities, including North Platte, have expressed interest in building a racetrack in pursuit of an eventual casino.
The Bellevue and York proposals are the first applications to apply that do not already have an existing racetrack.
Keno operator John Hassett is leading the effort to build the racetrack in Bellevue. In his application, Hassett notes that Bellevue is the state’s largest city without a horse track.
Hassett, his wife, Alberta, and their daughter, Kyle Allen, have formed the corporation Aksarben Equine Inc. to operate the track, which would be located on 120 acres at the northeast corner of U.S. 75 and Capehart Road. The track would be called
Belle Vue Downs, or The Vue, for short.
Hassett is president of Advanced Gaming Technologies, which owns the Bellevue and Plattsmouth keno parlors and more than 60 other keno satellite locations around the state.
In the Bellevue application, Hassett says his company has secured rights to the land and would begin construction immediately upon approval. The track would be 5/8 mile, the grandstand would accommodate an average of 2,000 spectators, and the races would feature quarterhorses. The site also has space for a future hotel.
Hassett said his primary interest is in the horse track. He hopes to add a casino, he said, because it would support the track by providing money for larger purses. But that’s not something he has pursued at this point.
Hassett’s application also notes that the company would support youth programs like 4H and rodeo and would include a focus on programs for autistic children.
In York, the Jensen and Alt families are
teaming up to propose a track near the Interstate 80 and U.S. 81 interchange. They, too, have secured rights to the land. Their 5/8-mile track would offer both quarterhorse and thoroughbred racing. A casino, hotel, pool and two restaurants are proposed as part of the project.
Ken and Bev Jensen, Drew and Jane Jensen and Ryan and Sheri Alt have formed the corporation, TopGun LLC, to hold the land and property. The track itself would be operated by a nonprofit, Freedom Bay LLC, according to the application. A representative of their group couldn’t be reached for comment.
The facility also could host rodeos, horse shows and provide other entertainment options for the York area, according to the application. The facility would be named Casino 353, after the York I-80 exit, according to the application. The track would be named Freedom Bay Race track.
The proposed horse racing tracks are on the July 16 agenda of the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission.
Tom Sage, executive director of the Racing and Gaming Commission, said the meeting is open to the public, and public comment will be taken. People can also comment ahead of time. The meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. at the commission’s offices, 5903 Walker Ave. in Lincoln.
Sage said a simple majority of the current six-member commission is required for approval of a horseracing application. The commission will hear the applications at the meeting, but it’s not immediately clear whether the commission will vote this month or schedule the vote at a subsequent meeting, he said.
Adding a casino to these tracks would require a separate application process, he said.
“This is a new process for everybody,” he said.
Pat Loontjer, executive director of Gambling with the Good Life, which fought casino gaming in Nebraska for 25 years, said she’s not surprised to see two applications already and expects to see many more.
“You’re talking Katy bar the door, “ she said. “We’re going to end up with a whole bunch of mini casinos all across Nebraska. They can put a racetrack anywhere, run their race one day a year, and they can build a casino next to it. ... It’s so sad because so much money is going to be lost by good Nebraskans.”
96 of the best Preakness photos from years past
Jockeys Forest Boyce, from left, Samantha Colvin and Chelsey Keiser get ready for the fourth race at Pimlico Race Course in 2013. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Jennifer and Joseph Plesvkoch sneak a kiss at the 138th running of The Preakness at Pimlico in 2013. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performs on the main stage in the infield of Pimlico Race Course on Preakness day in 2013. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Fans watch "Childish Gambino" perform on the main stage on the infield in 2015. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
American Pharoah's trainer, Bob Baffert (left) and jockey, Victor Espinoza high-five after American Pharoah wins the 140th Preakness Stakes. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
American Pharoah, ridden by Victor Espinoza, wins the 140th Preakness Stakes. Left is Divining Rod, who placed third. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Horse racing fan Mike Calimano, of Valley Stream, N.Y., dressed as American Pharoah at Pimiico Race Course for the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Oxbow, ridden by Gary Stevens, wins the 138th running of the Preakness at Pimlico. (Gene Sweeney, Jr./Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Cloud Computing (left), ridden by jockey Javier Castellano, edges Classic Empire (5), ridden by jockey Julien R. Leparoux, at the finish line during the 2017 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Cloud Computing won, denying Always Dreaming. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Jockey Javier Castellano pats his mount Cloud Computing after the combination won the 142nd Preakness Stakes with a wire finish at Pimlico Race Course. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Race goers crowd the betting area below the Pimlico grandstands in 1938 during one of the wettest Preakness' on record. The race was won by Dauber from Foxcatcher Farm. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
At the 1st turn of the 1996 Preakness, eventual winner Louis Quatorze leads the pack from start to finish. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
The horse above the Winners' Circle shows the colors of the winning horse of the 134th Preakness, Rachel Alexandra, who was ridden by jockey Calvin Borel. (Algerina Perna/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Buck's Bid loses his jockey at the start of the 1974 Preakness Stakes. (Weyman Swagger/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Owner E. P. Taylor leads Northern Dancer into winner's circle at the 1964 Preakness. (NOLAN/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Owner Michael J. Ford leads his Preakness winner Kauai King and jockey Don Brumfield up into winners circle following the 1966 Preakness. (Paul H. Hutchins/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
War Admiral wins the 1937 Preakness. (Frank Miller/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Dr. Freeland leading Minotaur and African to wire in the 1929 Preakness. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
So close was the finish of the 1932 Preakness at Pimlico that the picture of the blanket decision shows only two of the three horses that hit the wire almost at the same time. Tick On, which finished, second, is complete obscured, hidden between Burgoo King (No. 6), the winner, and Boatswain (No. 2), which ran third to the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Mad Pursuit, fourth, was four lengths back. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Bold Venture with jockey George Woolf aboard passes on the outside to win the 1936 Preakness Stakes. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Horses sprint from the gate in the 1936 Preakness, which was won by Bold Venture. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Bold Venture heads to the line with jockey George Woolf to win the 1936 Preakness Stakes. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Baltimore Mayor Jackson congratulates jockey George Woolf after he won the 1936 Preakness Stakes aboard Bold Venture. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Horses hug the rail during the 1934 Preakness Stakes. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Sunpapers photographer William LaForce snapped this shot of Riva Ridge pounding through the mud, good for grand prize of Preakness photo contest. (William LaForce/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Preakness winner Aloma's Ruler is seen in his stall at Pimlico in 1982. (Joseph Dipaolo/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Jockey Jeremy Rose, (left in the front row) aboard #12 Afleet Alex, begins to make his move against Scrappy T, (#5, right front) ridden by Ramon Domingudez. Rose then moved to the inside before pulling away in the stretch to win the 130th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Track. Horse in front middle is #11, High Limit, ridden by Edgar Prado. (David Hobby/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Preakness infield spectators make a game of running the gauntlet, as those daring enough to become targets run from one length of a line of urinals to the other, while some in the sea of people hurl filled cans and bottles of beer at them on Saturday, May 19, 2007. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Confiscated chairs and scattered garbage litter the entrance as people come in for the 130th Preakness at Pimlico Race Track. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
At 5:42 AM on Thursday, Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense starts to stir in his stall in stable E which is reserved for horses running in the Preakness. (Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Afleet Alex owners Chuck Zacney (left), Joe Lerro and Jen Reeves celebrate in the winner's circle after their win of the 130th Running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 21, 2005 in Baltimore, Md. Afleet Alex won the race in front of Scrappy T, who placed second and Giacomo, won placed third. (Monica Lopossay/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Curlin edges Street Sense at the line during the 132nd running of the Preakness Stakes. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
From left, Stephanie Granville, Steve Spahr, Keith Bistline (sitting on cooler), Todd Prete, and J.T. Copits, all of Pittsburgh, Pa., relax in their pool at the infield of the Pimlico Race Track before the Preakness Race in 1998. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Since 2000, Bobbie McKinney of Baltimore makes a flowery hat herself, shows up at Flower Mart, comes to Westside Preakness Parade, and goes to Preakness. Since she was 9-year-old, her father took her to see Preakness, so this is an excitiing time for her in 2006. (Chiaki Kawakiri/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Gina Scribbick of Harrisburg, Pa. enters the infield tunnel in 2006 for her second consecutive Preakness. (David Hobby/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
#6 Oxbow, ridden by Gary Stevens, wins the 138th running of The Preakness at Pimlico. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming gets a bath after an early morning workout today at Pimlico Race Course as the horse gets ready to run in the 142nd Preakness Stakes. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Classic Empire, center, ridden by jockey Julien R. Leparoux has a one-length lead on Cloud Computing, second left, with jockey Javier Castellano (red & white,) coming out of the final turn of the 142nd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. However, Cloud Computing caught up to Classic Empire and edged him out at the wire to win the 142nd Preakness Stakes. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
As raindrops coat a window at Pimlico in 2006, an exercise rider heads her horse back towards the barns after a workout on the sloppy Pimlico track on Monday morning. The Preakness horses are not expected to arrive at Pimlico until mid-week. (John Makely/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Maryland Jockey Club employees, from left, Dale Simmons and George Bazemore, unload horses for a display at Pimlico in 2006. The real Preakness horses are due to start arriving on Wednesday. (John Makely/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
A girl heads down a slip 'n slide and is doused with beer to earn a free beer in the infield in 2006. (John Makely/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Smarty Jones, #7, ridden by Stewart Elliott, crosses the finish line of the Preakness 11.5 lengths ahead of the second place finisher, Rock Hard Ten during the 129th Running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. Here he is ahead of the pack. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Secretariat breezes under the wire a 2.5 length victor in Preakness. Sham represents the only close competition in 98th such classic. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Jockey Victor Espinoza waves to the cheers of the crowd as War Emblem wears a blanket of Blackeyed Susans after winning the 127th running of the Preakness Stakes. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Kent Desormeaux reacts after winning the Preakness Stakes race at Pimlico Race Course. He rode Real Quiet to a first place finish in 1998. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Jockey Chris Antley acknowledges the crowd as he rides Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic to victory in the 124th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course Sat., May 15, 1999. This was the third year in a row that a Derby winner was victorious in the Preakness. Behind are Stephen Got Even (jockey Gary Stevens), left and Patience Game (jockey Corey S. Nakatani), right. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Crowds in the corporate tent area watch and photograph the 7th race (a turf race) at Pimlico in 2002. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Funny Cide with jockey Jose Santos aboard win the 128th Running of the Preakness Stakes. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Menacing Dennis (x on horse head) in the lead at the first turn as Victor Espinoza begins to work War Emblem in tighter ((third from left green and white) as the Preakness field follows in 2002. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Thirteen horses took the first turn in the 127th. running of the Preakness Stakes, led by #11 Menacing Dennis on the inside and the winner #8 War Emblem on the outside. (Doug Kapustin/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of Preakness horses Cape Town and Baquero watches an early morning workout at Pimlico in 1998. (Doug Kapustin/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
A man who managed to get onto the track and stand in front of the racehorses as they charged down the track during race 7 at Pimlico is led away. (Linda Coan/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Horses race around the first turn of the 125th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore. (Doug Kapustin/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Timothy Jacobs (7) riding "Tobasco Cat" (right) edges in front of Joey Young (8) on "Pine Bluff" during the final heat of the Peewee Preakness in Federal Hill Park in 2001. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Horses race by at the 1st turn of the 124th Preakness Stakes. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
During the 1953 Preakness on the outside of the first turn is Talitian King and inside is Dark Star; in third place is Correspondent and on rail is Native Dancer. (Joe DiPaola, Jr./Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Barbaro pulls up lame in front of the grandstand during the 131st running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. (Doug Kapustin/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Jockey Edgar Prado is comforted after his horse, Barbaro, came up lame during the 131st running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. (Monica Lopossay/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Horses make thier way onto the track at Pimlico Race Course the day before the Preakness Stakes. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Kent Desormeaux riding Exaggerator (right) wins the 141st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Corey J. Lanerie riding #1 Cherry Wine congratualtes him. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Exaggerator wins the 141st Preakness Stakes. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Jockey Kent J. Desormeaux celebrates as he heads for the winner's circle after winning the 141st Preakness Stakes aboard Exaggerator in 2016. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
The Preakness Celebration Balloon Festival takes place at the Turf Valley Country Club in 2014. (Kaitlin Newman/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
The 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome arrives at Pimlico with his groom, Raul Rodriguez. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome with exercise rider Willie Delgado during their morning run through the fog at Pimlico as they prepare for the running of the 139th Preakness Stakes to be held May 17, 2014. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Audra Harris shows off her hat during the 2014 Preakness.(Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Louis Quatorze wins the 1996 Preakness after leading from start to finish with jockey Pat Day. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
#3 California Chrome, in the middle heading into the first turn, would win the 139th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in 2014. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
#13 Rachel Alexandra ridden by Calvin Borel wins the Preakness Stakes in 2009. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Trainer D. Wayne Lucas (left) walks with Preakness entry Northern Giant and exercise rider Arielle Witkowsky as they head out to the track for an early morning workout in 2010. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Looking At Lucky sprints across the finish line in front of First Dude and Jackson Bend in the 135th running of the Preakness Stakes in 2010. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Kent Desormeaux reacts after winning the Preakness Stakes race at Pimlico Race Course in 1998. He rode Real Quiet to a first place finish. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
War Admiral wins the 1937 Preakness Stakes on the outside with Pompoon next to the rail. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Robert Baffert, center, the trainer of Lookin At Lucky, lifts the trophy cup at the Winners' Circle. Lookin At Lucky, ridden by jocky Martin Garcia, second left, won the 135th running of the Preakness Stakes. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Gallant Fox # 1 wins the 1930 Preakness. (Frank A. Miller/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Turf Valley's annual balloon festival in celebration of the Preakness races in Ellicott City, Md. on Saturday, May 21, 2011. The balloons did not actually get released, but they all blew up during the sunrise balloon launch. (Jen Rynda/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
#5 Shackleford with jockey Jesus Lopez Castanon onboard wins the136th Preakness at Pimlico Race Track. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Spectators in the infield and on the stable balcony cheer at the horses from the 136th Preakness Stakes head down the backstretch. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Jockey Jesus Lopez Castanon reacts after winning the 136th Preakness at Pimlico Race Track. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Exercise rider Frankie Herrarte walks Preakness entrant Mr. Commons on the backstretch Friday morning during a workout at Pimlico Race Course. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Kegasus holds court on Pimlico's infield in 2011. Kegasus makes an appearance at Pimlico Race Course Monday. (Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
During the Preakness in 1958, Lincoln Road is leading in the stretch and "Silky Sullivan" is pictured in last place. (Edward Nolan/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Women attend the 136th Preakness at Pimlico Race Track. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Mike Califano of Valley Stream, N.Y. takes a drink with his horse head on at the 136th Preakness at Pimlico Race Track. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Riders and horses are on the track as the sun rises over Pimlico Race Course in 2012. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
The 1962 Preakness. In this prize winning photo finish of the Preakness, Greek Money on the right ridden by Johnny Rotz beats Ridan ridden by Manuel Ycaza (left). (Joe DiPaola, Jr./Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Kentucky Derby winner "I'll Have Another" arrived at Pimlico on Monday and is set to run in the Preakness Stakes on May 19, 2012. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun/TNS)
The crowd at the 1937 Preakness. (Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Secretariat charges towards the finish of the 1973 Preakness Stakes. (William H. Mortimer/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Dennis Posey at the 1985 Preakness Infield. (Ann DeFebo/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Jockey Mario Gutierrez gives a thumbs-up after winning the 137th running of the Preakness race. (Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun/TNS)
I'll Have Another (#9) overtakes Bodemeister (#7) in the final stretch to win the 137th Preakness Stakes. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another (left) trails Creative Cause (center) and lead horse Bodemeister, who all pace the field of eleven horses as they attack the final turn in the 137th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
I'll Have Another (#9) overtakes Bodemeister (#7) in the final stretch to win the 137th Preakness Stakes. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
Entering the fourth turn, Exaggerator (center) cuts to the outside to cut off Stradivari (orange and blue striped cap) and Collected (left front) while competing against leader and Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist (3), who placed third, during the 141st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Exaggerator won. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS)