Bill Would Give Senators Authority to Pass Expanded Gambling Bills

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Senator Paul Schumacher isn't new to gambling bills. He's proposed a number of them in the past but the one being debated this year would give more power to senators.

It's in the state constitution, any bill to expand gambling has to also be approved by the people. It's a measure Nebraska voters denied in 2004 and 2006. This bill, though, is different.

"This bill doesn't propose any new gambling. All it does is ask the people if they want the legislature to have the power to deal with the gambling issue," Senator Paul Schumacher of Columbus said.

Senator Schumacher introduced the bill and believes more gambling opportunities in Nebraska would mean less dollars leaving the state.

"Approximately $400 million a year leaves Nebraska to our neighboring states, Iowa especially. That money produces an excess of $100 million a year in tax revenue for those states and it's a complete loss for us," Senator Schumacher said.

But opponents say it's more than just a dollars and cents issue.

"If you look at numerous studies, there are tremendous social problems associated with wide spread gambling. It would be something like a casino in Nebraska," said Al Riskowski of the Nebraska Family Council.

But actually making the bill law circles back to you. Voters would need to approve the change, deciding whether or not the legislature should have the final say.

"If the voters of Nebraska are voting down gambling, why would they want to give up their vote now? That to me doesn't compute," Riskowski said.

"This is about giving people the right to vote and asking them the question do you want the legislature to have the authority or not?" Senator Schumacher said.