Two separate initiatives to bring casinos into our Nebraska communities are underway.

Here’s what you need to know, and how you can join NFA in standing up to casinos to protect Nebraska’s families and the values we cherish.

Casinos are predatory by design. While generating no new wealth, casinos have a devastating effect on local economies and create more gambling addicts than jobs. In fact, economists have concluded that the costs of introducing casinos outweigh any benefits by a factor of 3-to-1. [1]

Those costs, including increases in crime, domestic abuse, child abandonment, and suicide, are high to communities and families. It’s to Nebraskan’s credit that for decades our state has rejected the many attempts to legalize casinos.

But now the gambling interests are back.

Petition Drive to Legalize Casino Gambling At Horse Racetracks

Carter Lake Casino Being Built Near Open Door Mission

Gambling Interest Groups Announce Petition Drive to Legalize Casino Gambling

Ho-Chuck Inc., of the Winnebago tribe, and the Nebraska Horsemen’s Association announced formalized plans to attempt once again to legalize casinos in Nebraska by collecting enough signatures to place the issue on the November ballot in 2020.

If enough signatures are obtained to qualify for the ballot and approved by voters, casino gambling would be allowed in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Columbus, South Sioux City, Hastings, and anywhere casino operators can think to build a racetrack.

Carter Lake Casino Moving Towards Opening Despite Ongoing Litigation

Carter Lake is the only part of Iowa located west of the Missouri River. Sitting on Omaha’s front door and within walking distance of the Open Door Mission, casino gambling advocates are poised to make it the newest location of a casino on 5 acres of land owned by the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.

While the Open Door Mission provides food, shelter and critical preventive measures to hundreds of people living in poverty every day, casinos prey on addiction and generate up to 50% of their revenue from problem gamblers.

An unelected government commission in Washington gave the green-light for land that was originally set aside for a health clinic to become a casino. Clearly, the location of this casino is poised to exploit the most vulnerable members of our society and jeopardizes the entire mission of one of Omaha’s most vital ministries.

Out of concern for this vulnerable population both the state of Nebraska and Iowa have filed a lawsuit to block the casino, but construction on the casino continues as the Ponca tribe plans to rush ahead and open the casino in late October before the lawsuit is finished.

What You Can Do

2. Don't Sign

By not signing the ballot petition you are helping keep casinos out of Nebraska!

3. Educate Others

Expand your voice by telling your circle of influence why you won’t be signing the ballot petition. Also, tell your friends and family about what’s at stake if a casino in Carter Lake is opened next to the Open Door Mission.

4. Pray

Please join NFA in praying for citizens across Nebraska to be informed and speak out, protection for the Open Door Mission and the vulnerable population they serve, and that neither attempt to bring casinos into our communities will be successful.

By being informed, not signing the ballot petition, educating others, and uniting with us in prayer, you are helping keep casinos out of Nebraska – and by doing so, you win! Because when it comes to predatory gambling, you pay even if you don’t play.  

Our state consistently ranks as one of the best places to live, work and raise a family, and we’ve achieved that status without the presence of casinos.

There are always ways to improve our state, communities, and neighborhoods, but sacrificing local businesses, families, and children to the harms of predatory casino gambling certainly isn’t one of them.

1 (2004). Grinols, PhD, Earl, University of Illinois, Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits. Cambridge University Press.

Nate Grasz

Nate Grasz

Policy Director
Nate is the Policy Director at Nebraska Family Alliance and host of the Capitol Report program.