Replayed racing proceeds could go to education, property tax

A measure intended to pave the way for wagering on replayed horse races in Nebraska was returned from final reading March 25 for consideration of an amendment. The proposal is a carry-over measure that was introduced and advanced from general file last session.

LR41CA, introduced by Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh, would place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2014 general election ballot regarding historic horse racing. If approved by voters, the amendment would allow wagering on the results of live, replayed or delayed horse races at licensed racetracks where live racing occurs by a pari-mutuel method.

During general file debate in 2013, Lautenbaugh explained that an historic horse race creates a pari-mutuel pool via instant racing terminals from wagers placed on a previously held race at a licensed racetrack. Information is supplied regarding the jockeys, horses and track conditions, he said, excluding information that would allow an individual placing a wager to identify the specific race.

Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy offered a motion to return the proposal from final reading to select file for consideration of an amendment that would insert the words “instant racing terminals” into the measure.

McCoy said he opposed the underlying proposal as expanded gambling and said senators should be honest and clear about what they are asking Nebraska voters to approve.

He said court cases and attorney general opinions in other states consistently have shown that instant racing terminals do not qualify as pari-mutuel wagering – the only type of horse racing gaming authorized by the Nebraska Constitution.

“It’s wagering – like traditional casino wagering – but it is not the unique form of wagering, either live or simulcast, that’s been in existence for well over 150 years,” McCoy said. “You can’t just call something pari-mutuel wagering and have it be pari-mutuel wagering.”

Following a number of tactical attempts by McCoy to extend debate, his amendment was ruled out of order.

Lautenbaugh offered a motion to return the measure for an amendment that would specify the following allocation for proceeds of historic horse racing if voters approve the measure:
• 49 percent for elementary and secondary education;
• 49 percent to reduce property taxes; and
• 2 percent to the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund.

Lautenbaugh said the measure was not expanded gambling and could provide a needed boost to the horse racing industry and revenue to the state.

“This is important to our economy,” he said.

Lautenbaugh then offered a cloture motion, which ceases debate and forces a vote on all pending action.

Senators voted 34-14 to invoke cloture and returned the measure to select file for consideration of Lautenbaugh’s amendment, which was adopted 27-12.

LR41CA then was re-advanced to final reading by voice vote.

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