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Nebraska Horse Racing Gambling Bill Makes It Out Of Committee

Nebraska lawmakers are trying to kick-start the economy in the state, and like many other states, the legislators are turning to gambling to accomplish the goal. The latest bill making its way through the Legislature would allow betting on old horse races.

A state Senate Committee passed a bill this week that will allow the newly popular form of gambling. The legislation would permit new gambling machines to be placed at state race tracks. The machines would play old races, with the names of the horses changed, and gamblers would be allowed to place bets on the races.

The issue has sparked strong debate between lawmakers. Pro-gaming legislators are hoping the bill passes in an effort to save a racing industry that has struggled to maintain its sport dominance in recent years.

Anti-gaming lawmakers believe this is just another attempt to bring expanded gambling to Nebraska. The battle has reached a fever pitch over the past couple of weeks, and Wednesday's vote gave a win to those pushing for the bill.

"I think it's very hard to turn your back on the people who are depending on this bill," said Senator Scott Lautenbaugh, the lawmakers who introduced the bill. "This is a jobs bill."

The two sides have used aged old arguments in trying to persuade fellow lawmakers to vote their way. Legislators in favor of the bill have pointed to the millions of dollars the machines would bring to struggling tracks, and the thousands of jobs that would be created.

Anti-gaming lawmakers believe expanded gambling will lead to increased crime and addiction. Nebraska has long been an anti-gaming state outside of their horse tracks, but the racing industry does have strong pull within the government.

Governor Dave Heineman has already vetoed gambling legislation during his term, but he has not commented on the bill making its way through the Senate. The governor could end up being the person directly responsible for the bills passage or defeat in the coming weeks.

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