AP NEWS

Nebraska AG sues panel that approved horse-racing machines

January 23, 2020 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska’s attorney general filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a state commission that voted to allow machine bets on previously run horse races despite the attorney general’s warnings that the machines are illegal.

The lawsuit alleges that the Nebraska State Racing Commission approved so-called “historical horse racing” even after state lawyers advised the commission that the machines violate state law and the Nebraska Constitution’s prohibition of casino gambling.

“We are asking a court to declare the commission’s actions unlawful and to stop the use of these machines,” the attorney general said in a statement.

The attorney general’s office said the commission’s vote amounted to a “unilateral decision to expand gambling without action by the Legislature or the citizens of Nebraska.”

A woman who answered the phone at the Nebraska State Racing Commission’s office Wednesday evening said no one was available to comment on the lawsuit.

The commission voted 3-2 in July to allow the terminals at Fonner Park in Grand Island.

Lawmakers have considered measures to legalize the machines in the past but rejected them amid arguments that they’re too similar to casino slots. The machines allow players to bet on old, previously recorded horse races that are shown on a video monitor. Information that could identify the races is removed. Supporters have said the machines are constitutional because Nebraska does allow bets on horse racing at state-licensed tracks.

Attorney General Doug Peterson, a Republican, filed another gambling-related lawsuit in 2018 to try to stop the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska from building a casino in Carter Lake, Iowa, a city that borders Omaha.