Keep the Money in Nebraska: Ho-Chunk Inc. CEO Lance Morgan

Gaming initiatives backed by tribal corporation faces uncertain future

Gaming initiatives backed by Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe, can't appear on the November ballot, Nebraska Secretary of State Robert B. Evnen announced.

Keep the Money in Nebraska collected enough signatures for three separate initiatives to appear on the ballot. But Evnen in a news release on Tuesday said the language in two of them was "confusing" because they didn't focus on a single subject. A third is considered to be "logrolling," or the trading of favors, which he said is outlawed in the state.

“The Constitutional right to bring forward initiative petitions for a vote of the people is fundamental to our state governance and is to be zealously protected," Evnen wrote in a determination letter sent to state citizens who challenged the initiatives. "Part of the protection of the right of initiative is to assure that such petitions are neither misleading nor manipulative.”

In the news release, Evnen said his determination could be challenged in court. The final ballot for the November 6 election must be certified by September 11, he added.

Keep the Money in Nebraska plans to file suit in the Supreme Court of Nebraska in response to the decision. Evnen is being named as the defendant. [Application for Leave to File an Original Action | Verified Petition for Writ of Mandamus]

The initiatives, if approved by voters, authorize casino-style gaming at racetracks in Nebraska. Doing so would also open the door for Class III gaming on Indian lands in the state.

Casino-style gaming is legal in every state that borders Nebraska. The state has consistently refused to negotiate with tribes for Class III gaming, a category that includes slot machines and most table and card games.

The petitions submitted by the backers of Keep the Money in Nebraska are: Games of Chance – Constitutional Amendment Petition, Games of Chance – Racetrack Petition and Games of Chance – Tax Petition.

Besides Ho-Chunk Inc., the sponsors of the petitions are the Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and Omaha Exposition and Racing.

Ho-Chunk Inc. owns Indianz.Com. The website operates independently is not involved in the activities of the corporation.

Read More on the Story
Secretary of state blocks gambling initiatives from November ballot (The Lincoln Journal Star August 25, 2020)
Nebraska elections head: Gambling measure won’t make ballot (The Associated Press August 25, 2020)

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