After on November 3rd the voters in Nebraska approved the three measures seeking to legalize gambling in the state, local community leaders are now set to consider the changes such a step would bring the city of Columbus.
Jim Bulkley, Mayor of Columbus, shared that the local officials are excited about the opportunity gambling could mean for the city.
As mentioned above, the measures voted on the ballot changed the state constitution to permit gambling at local racetracks. Furthermore, a gambling regulator, Nebraska Gaming Commission, is set to be established, as well as a 20% annual tax on the local gambling operators’ revenue is to be imposed.
For the time being, six cities in the state of Nebraska already have horse racetracks, Columbus included. The rest of them are Lincoln, South Sioux City, Omaha, Hastings and Grand Island. Through the tax that would be set for gambling revenue, $20 from every $100 generated by a gambling business in Columbus is to be set aside, with Columbus and Platte County set to get $2.50 each.
According to some Columbus Exposition & Racing Board members, the expansion of gambling services at racetracks across Nebraska will be beneficial for both the state and the local communities. Board member Tom Jackson explained that if all racetracks across the state collaborate and join forces with the Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association, they can ensure further growth.
Racetrack Development Requires Collaboration of All Major Players
As explained by Mr. Jackson, the racetracks intend to work in collaboration so that more gambling options are offered in Columbus and the state remains competitive with other states while pursuing fresh money flow. In addition, he said that the state’s breeding will be enhanced.
According to Mr. Jackson, new jobs may also be created to support the process. He shared that the racetrack in Columbus hosted races only 4 days in 2020. In comparison, the city of Grand Island was the one that hosted most race days, with 42 held there so far in 2020. The goal is to get this number as close to 200 days as possible.
Currently, the racing license of Ag Park’s facility is being held by the CER. So, if races here are set to increase, the existing racetrack facilities may need further development. Mr. Jackson revealed that CER is set to take part in the ongoing discussions between the City of Columbus, the Platte County Ag Society and the Platte Country Board of Supervisors over the possible changes that could be brought to the aforementioned racetrack.
He further noted that in order for this to become a successful project, the CER would have to join forces with the rest of the leaders.