Nebraska unveils draft regulations for casino gambling

Nebraska gambling news

The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission published the final draft of regulations for casinos last Friday, pushing the Cornhusker State a step closer to rolling out Las Vegas-style gambling at six licensed horse tracks.

The preliminary rules propose a framework for the regulation of gaming operators wishing to enter the state’s market, which is set to take off next year.

Under the rules, casino operators would have to partner with one of Nebraska’s racetracks for their operations. The eligible locations are Lincoln Race Course in Lincoln City, Atokad Downs in South Sioux City, Ag Park in Columbus, Horsemen’s Park in Omaha, Fonner Park in Grand Island, and Fairplay Park in Hastings.

However, the proposed regulations still have several hurdles to clear before they are implemented. The first of these is a public hearing, scheduled to take place during the Commission’s next meeting on December 17.

Governor Pete Ricketts and the Attorney General also have to sign off on the rules before they are recognized by the state.

Casino operators to pay $1m for permits

If the draft rules are implemented as they are, casino operators will be required to pay a fee of $1 million to the Racing and Gaming Commission to get a license. These permits will remain valid for a period of 20 years.

The regulations also require interested operators to submit blueprints of their gaming facilities when applying for permits.

Vendors, on the other hand, will part with $5,000 for initial permits and a further $2000 in annual license fee after that. Vendor permits will have a validity of three years.

Also included in the draft is a rule prohibiting smoking at licensed casinos, as well as a ban on weapons of any kind inside the premises of a gaming venue, except when they are carried by law enforcement or security personnel.

Harrah’s, Caesars among eligible candidates

Following the legalization of casino games at Nebraska’s racetracks through a voter referendum last year, five of the six eligible facilities have aligned themselves with qualified operators for the offering.

The Nebraska Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA) was the first to announce a partnership with Ho-Chunk Inc, an economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. The agreement will see the company run casinos under the WarHorse brand at the Horsemen’s three racetracks in Lincoln, Omaha, and South Sioux City.

Caesars Entertainment is also among those who have inked partnerships for casino gaming in the Cornhusker State.

The company secured an agreement with Columbus Exposition and Racing in July, allowing it to put up a Harrah’s-branded casino at the Ag Park race track in Columbus. According to Caesars, the venue will cost about $75 million and it will feature 400 slots, around 20 table games, a retail sportsbook, and restaurant.

Fonner Park, on the other hand, selected Iowa-based Elite Casino Resorts to build a $100 million casino and sportsbook on its premises. FairPlay Park also has plans to build a casino with 200 machines, but it is yet to announce its operating partner.

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