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Casinos & Gambling In Nebraska
Nebraska is a state that is only home to three casinos and five racetracks. Most forms of gambling are prohibited in Nebraska except for horse racing, bingo, lotteries and raffles and tribal gaming. All these must be conducted by a licensed organisation.
The Nebraska Lottery has also set up a MVP Club, for it’s “most valuable players”. Members of the club are notified of new games, contests and promotions. They have access to updated surveys and gambling news. They also have the opportunity to win free lottery tickets, cash and trips.
The MVP Club have an ongoing theme at the moment, which promotes outdoor activity. Members are entered into a draw with the chance to win football tickets and participate in large outdoor parties and games. All in an attempt to promote a healthier lifestyle for its members.
During October 2002 the Nebraska Lottery joined a scheme called AMBER (Americas Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response). The system was established after the kidnapping and murder of a 9-year-old girl from Texas called Amber Hagerman in 1996.
If a child is abducted then the Nebraska Lottery issue an emergency broadcast across the state so that they can receive a speedy response from its residents. The National Centre For Missing and Exploited Children issued a report that stated that since 1996 the AMBER scheme has helped in the recovery of 26 missing children.
In November 2004 the people of Nebraska voted for the lottery funds to be distributed in the following way:
Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund: 44.5%
Nebraska State Fair: 10%
Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund: 1% plus the first $500,000 raised each year.
The casinos that have been allowed are only set up with Electronic Bingo and Bingo
Slots although they do have restaurants for their guests. Even so, one of these establishments is set to expand, proving that they have found a winning formula to ensure profits. They are set to add fifty Class II machines and more space for live action poker. The casino in question has just had a weeklong anniversary celebration with daily promotions and during the week gave away over $2500 in cash and prizes.
In a state that doesn’t hold with much gambling the people of Nebraska spent almost $264 million in charitable gaming activities in 2003. They also bought $80.9 million
in lottery tickets and spent $112 million on horse racing. This put more than $5.7 million into the states tax revenue fund.
All 93 counties of Nebraska have benefited from the funds raised from these activities and the residents feel that they have the perfect formula for a happy lifestyle although some groups disagree with this belief.
Yet it appears that horse racing is on the decline in Nebraska since the introduction of the other forms of gambling such as bingo and various lotteries fifteen years ago.
A study of the economic impact back in 1990 showed that a direct cash flow of $81million and 6000 jobs were channelled back into the state as a result of horse racing revenue.
All funds are invested back into the farming communities via the farmers and their families, the horse trainers and jockeys and the agricultural industry and horse breeders.
Even so, there appears to now be a shortfall in the breeding of horses and the racing industry feels that it is being bled dry. In 1990 there were 704 foals raised in Nebraska but by 1999 this figure had fallen to 102.
Horse racing supporters state that in five to ten years time, if something isn’t done now to save the sport, then the rural community of Nebraska will suffer.
In 1995 some citizens formed an action group they called “Gambling With The Good Life”. They were set up to oppose the expansion of gambling in Nebraska and have proven themselves very successful.
They, along with the Nebraska Family Council, have been able to prevent two gambling bills, which were introduced in the 2005 Legislative Session from being passed.
Even so, Nebraska appears keen to help its citizens in obtaining as much help and information as possible regarding gambling problems and addiction. They have their own Nebraska Council on Compulsive Gambling and the Nebraska Health and Human Services System have established a “problem gambling programme” which is available 24 hours per day 7 days per week.
Although the people of Nebraska appear determined to keep the large casinos out of their state and the gambling under strict control, there are some who feel this opinion is outdated and costing Nebraska dearly.
A team of people who would welcome the introduction of casinos became known by the name “Keep the Money in Nebraska”.
Their website shows various points that others are trying to push forward in defence of allowing casinos and gives the other side of the argument. They claim to dispel myths and want to see casinos brought in to the state.
Those who are against casinos say that gambling promotes high rates of crime and bankruptcy in the area. But a 1999 study done for the U.S. Treasury showed that there was no links between bankruptcy and gambling. The National Institute for Justice also states that there is no link between gambling and crime. And unfortunately the state of Nevada has high rates in both even though they don’t allow casino-style gambling.
There is also a myth that gambling “devastates” retail sales which is widely refuted. Some areas with nearby casinos have experienced a 4.5% increase in sales during the past couple of years.
The National Opinion Research Centre at the University of Chicago have done a study for U.S. Congress which shows that in areas where casinos have been introduced showed an increase in jobs, unemployment figures fell and welfare costs were reduced.
“Keep The Money in Nebraska” claim that the state could be losing over $300,000,000 per year in potential revenue.
This is probably a debate that will continue for some time in the state of Nebraska.
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