Four border states — Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas and Missouri — allow casino gambling, which is banned in Nebraska. Supporters say legislative resistance to such gambling measures is costing Nebraska hundreds of millions of dollars annually, and the state already has higher rates of divorce and bankruptcy than Iowa and South Dakota. Critics argue that compulsive gambling worsens those social problems and others.
Nebraska voters rejected two proposals in 2004 that would have allowed casino gambling — one touted by Las Vegas casino interests, the other by the Nebraska Legislature.
Schumacher argues that a casino measure would have won approval if only one had appeared on the ballot, and he insisted Monday that Las Vegas casino interests "got what they wanted" with three Council Bluffs, Iowa, casinos concentrated along the Nebraska border.
Gambling opponents said the economic benefits of casinos are overblown, given the cost of regulating such businesses as well as the likely increases in embezzlement and other crimes related to gambling addictions.
Schumacher said the constitutional ban on gambling — enacted when Nebraska became a state in 1867 — was "approved by people who would roll over in their graves if they saw what was being done."
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