Nebraska Tracks May Take On Historical Racing

Submitted by
on March 14, 2013

The introduction of historical racing at Nebraska’s thoroughbred race tracks took a step closer to becoming a reality yesterday – following eight hours of debate, stretched over four days. Historical horse racing allows wagering on the outcomes of past races generated at random on a machine. There are thousands of videos of races that are randomly chosen from a database, and any information relating to the date and venue of the race is removed from the video. Critics of historical horseracing complain that the machines are nothing more than slot machines encouraging gambling, and do nothing to promote the sport of horse racing. Proponents tend to see it as a much-needed additional revenue stream that supports the sport financially.

The constitutional amendment being proposed (LR41CA) will now be put on the ballot for voters to decide, and will still go through two more rounds of consideration before possible approval. The debate on the merits, or otherwise, of allowing historical racing at race tracks in Nebraska has been going on for some time. A similar bill, put forward by Sen Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha last year, was passed, but vetoed by Gov Dave Heineman. An attempt to override Heineman’s veto failed. Lautenbaugh is determined to see this new proposal through, noting that lawmakers need to help the horse racing industry, as it has been struggling for a number of years now.

Horse racing venues in Nebraska include Fonner Park in Grand Island, which has been operating since 1954. Located just off Interstate 80, Fonner park is a year-round facility hosting a variety of events, include the thoroughbred race meet between mid-February and mid-May. The highlight of the meet is the Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes race, carrying a purse of $75,000, which will be held on April 27, 2013. Horse racing at Fonner Park is a festive affair, with craft shows, entertainment, family-oriented activities, competitions and give-aways. The simulcast program at Fonner Park features racing from New York, California, Kentucky, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa and Arkansas. It is altogether a possibility that historical horse racing may become a feature of this thoroughbred racing venue in Nebraska.

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