Resolution calls for vote on November 2010 state ballot

Nebraska voters have been rejecting bids to expand gambling within the state since 1938, but some state lawmakers feel the time has come to embrace gambling as a revenue source.

Legislative Resolution 6, proposed by State Sen. Russ Karpisek, would ask voters in November 2010 to amend the Nebraska constitution to allow 3,500 video slot machines to be installed at the state’s five thoroughbred racetracks. Approval could result in raising up to $88 million annually for the state’s cash-strapped roads program and another $28 million to prop up the state’s struggling horse racing industry, Karpisek told the Omaha World-Herald.

Although a similar measure was soundly defeated by Nebraska voters in 2006, Karpisek said the current tough economic times would prompt voters to approve slots gambling if the alternative was a tax increase. Besides, he added, much of the revenue would be raised from people who are already going into neighboring states to gamble at casinos.

Because the proposal would be offered to voters as a constitutional amendment, 60-percent majorities in the legislature are required for approval.