While there seems to be no movement on regulatory or legalization actions across the States of America, many states have been staking their claims on the industry. Since the 2011 ruling by the U. S. government (more on this in a moment), many states have expanded their gaming options for their citizens, through either expansion of casino gaming or moving into the online realm. Two states will have legislative actions on the ballot for Tuesday’s election, which will have a significant impact on those states and perhaps those around them.
Nebraska Looks to Expand Casinos
Already the home of a few Indian casinos, the state of Nebraska is looking at several “initiatives” (basically amendments or new laws allowing for an activity) regarding casino gaming. Nebraska Initiatives 429, 430 and 431 would allow licensed racetracks in the state to offer casino style gaming, create a Nebraska Gaming Commission to oversee such gambling and institute a 20% tax on such gaming at the tracks. It would provide for 75% of those taxes to be allotted to property tax relief for citizens of the Cornhusker State and the state’s Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund and 25% to the counties where the new casinos are located.
You might think that this isn’t a big deal, but many Nebraskans are sounding off on the issue. The main support for the Initiatives is an organization called Keep The Money in Nebraska, which believes that millions of dollars will be kept in the state instead of heading to surrounding states (such as Iowa, Missouri and Colorado). Other groups who are in support of the Initiatives are the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and State Senate candidate Janet Palmtag.
The opposition is strong also, looking to reject this expansion of gaming. The major leader of the opposition is Gambling With the Good Life and the Nebraska Family Alliance. Current Governor Pete Ricketts is in opposition to the Initiatives, joined by former Governor David Heineman, former U. S. Senators Mike Johanns and Bob Kerrey and former U. S. Representative and University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne.
Colorado Citizens to Decide on Bet Limits
In the state of Colorado, there is a State Constitutional amendment that would allow those in three cities – Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City – to decide whether they want to raise the stakes on single bets. A majority of the voters in those cities need to vote in favor of the amendment, otherwise a statewide referendum would be necessary to adjust the stakes.
Currently in the state, individual wagers cannot exceed $100. This was raised from $5 in 2009 after the voters in the state passed Amendment 50 in 2008 to move the level up. The new law, called Amendment 77, would also allow for table games such as blackjack, craps and roulette to exist alongside the poker offerings. It is being done because many gaming outlets in the state believe the restrictions on bets is affecting their ability to keep players in action in their establishments.
Amendment 77 is being supported by many giants in the gaming arena. Caesars Entertainment, Penn National and Monarch Casinos are all in support of the changes. It also seems that the individual city governments of Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City are in favor of passing the amendment. Opponents cite potential increases in problem gambling and the effect it will have on the state, not just the three cities, as reasons for opposing the amendment.
2011 Decision Still Having Effects
The decision in 2011 by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel continues to have effects on the question of who is in control of gaming. That decision – which overturned the 1961 Wire Act – said that states could determine their own rules regarding gaming, whether it was online or live. Since that time, several states have opened the doors for expanded live gaming and, even more so, forays into online gaming.
Another decision brought another avenue for gaming to the states. In 2018 the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prohibited sports betting in every state except Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana. That decision opened the right for each state to decide whether they wanted sports betting inside their borders.
While the current administration has tried to reinstate the Wire Act as the “law of the land” following these decisions, they have so far failed. Thus, both Nebraska and Colorado are taking their steps forward towards perhaps an expansion of gaming inside the casinos of their states.