Once I got inside the entrance gates, I immediately was accosted by the petition signers, and realized that it was actually the horsemen promoting this. Sure enough, the idea is that by bringing slot machines into Nebraska, the funds raised could be invested in horse racing. That's what they are saying.
Of course, that's what they said 25 years ago in Iowa. Once some communities had gambling, others wanted it. The competition forced the tracks to invest more money to keep their casino side up-to-date, meaning there was less money for racing. Then the Vegas gambling interests bought the casinos, and the tracks became more of a sidelight. And then, Vegas pulled the plug on the races.
From a short-term business perspective, I kind of see the horsemen's point. Get the lucrative short term profits of a casino. And then, cash out when Vegas buys them out. But don't kid yourself that it'll "save" horse racing, because it won't.In recent years, you only had to go to the Horseshoe Casino next to the track to see the difference in appeal. The packed slot rooms stood in sharp contrast to the abandoned racing clubhouse. In the end, the slot machines that were once seen as Bluffs Run’s salvation helped spur its demise.“Slot machines pretty much killed it,’’ said David Steinbach of Omaha, a fan at Bluffs Run from day one.
If it passes, it'll start with casinos at tracks in Omaha, Lincoln, Columbus, Grand Island and South Sioux City. But then, Norfolk, Kearney and North Platte will complain and say "what about us?" So they'll get casinos, but without tracks. Then Sarpy County will demand one. Competition between the casinos will increase, and the horse tracks will become less of a priority.
And then a burden.
And then they'll be gone. Just like in Iowa.
Casinos won't save horse racing; they can't save racing. Casinos will kill racing.