Nebraska casino gambling measure fails to make 2016 ballot

Published: Aug. 11, 2016 at 8:08 PM CDT
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A proposal to allow casino gambling in Nebraska has failed to qualify for the November general election ballot.

Secretary of State John Gale announced Thursday that organizers of a petition drive didn't submit enough verified signatures to put the issue before voters.

Gale says organizers turned in 119,666 signatures for the proposed constitutional amendment, but 41,710 were rejected by county election officials who reviewed them. At least 117,188 valid signatures were needed.

Gale says more than 24,000 signatures were rejected because signers weren't registered in the county indicated on the petition sheet. Nearly 4,600 were rejected as duplicates and more than 3,000 were rejected because signers were not registered voters.

Gale said he requested that county election officials verify signatures for the constitutional amendment first. Now, they will finish verifying signatures for the two other statutory initiatives – regulating games of chance and gaming devices at racetracks and establishing a tax on gross gaming revenue.

“We expect that process to take a few more weeks,” continued Gale. “In addition to verifying signatures for those two remaining initiatives, some counties are also finishing work on verifying signatures to place presidential candidate Jill Stein on the ballot.”

A petition to create the Marijuana Party of Nebraska also failed to secure enough signatures for placement on the general ballot.

Petition organizers had spent nearly $1.4 million on the campaign as of July 26.

Following Gale's announcement on the gambling initiative, the Nebraska Family Alliance released the following statement:

Thursday, Nebraskans received very good news. The initiative to expand gambling in our great state to include casinos and slot machines has failed.

Nate Grasz, Policy Analyst for Nebraska Family Alliance stated, "Nebraska consistently ranks as one of the best places to live, work and raise a family, and we've achieved that status without casinos in our backyard. Proponents of casinos cannot point to a single place in the United States where casinos have revitalized a community."

Even if the campaign to put casinos on the ballot had been successful, Nebraskans would have seen through the deceptive and misleading tactics used by proponents of casinos to "keep the money in Nebraska.

The reality is, casinos create more gambling addicts than jobs, for every $1 of gambling revenue the state will spend $3 on increased social services and casinos have been linked to dramatic increases in crime.

There are always opportunities for us to improve our state, but casinos certainly aren't one of them.