New State Casino Rules To Require $1 Million License Fee

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — To operate a casino at a Nebraska horse racetrack companies will have to pay $1 million for a 20-year license and follow a litany of other rules.

The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission released the new casino rules on Friday. Voters authorized casino gambling at horse tracks in Nebraska in 2020.

Racing and Gaming Executive Director Tom Sage said an industry consultant helped the state draft its rules by looking at what has worked well in other states.

The Lincoln Journal Star reported that in addition to the $1 million up-front license fee, casino operators will have to pay an annual assessment to the state.

All six licensed horse tracks, in Lincoln, Omaha, South Sioux City, Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings, have announced plans to add casinos.

Besides the six existing tracks, there also have been proposals announced for new tracks in Bellevue, Gering, Kimball, Norfolk, North Platte and York. All of them are likely to seek casino licenses as well.

Lynne McNally, executive vice president of the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which is partnering with Ho-Chunk Inc. to build casinos in Lincoln, Omaha and South Sioux City, said the rules are very thorough.

“The Racing Commission worked efficiently and diligently, and we really appreciate their efforts,” McNally said.

Fonner Park racetrack CEO Chris Kotulak said he's worried the state may wind up with too many racetracks because of companies wanting to operate casinos.

“There’s not the human or equine infrastructure in place to support any more racing than we already have,” Kotulak said.