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NP mayor breaks tie to clear way for horse race track and casino

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 12:51 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - After two hours of public comment and discussion, it was North Platte’s mayor who cleared the way for a proposed horse race track and casino.

The council voted 4 to 4 for the conditional use permit for the “racino.” Council members Ed Rieker, Mark Woods, Donna Tryon and Council President Jim Nisley voted “no” on the motion.

But it was Mayor Brandon Kelliher who broke the four-way tie and voted in favor of the project. Mayor Kelliher explained he had two options, he can vote yes and the motion would pass, or choose not to vote which result in the motion failing.

North Platte Exposition and Racing and Prospect Enterprises, LLC plans to build a horse track on 77 acres of land at the intersection of Victoria Lane and East Walker Road.

According to their four year plan, one race would be offered in its first year with the hope of increasing it to 30 racing days by its fourth year. The plan is also to build a casino within that four year time frame.

President of North Platte Exposition and Racing Brian Becker told the council he plans to add a casino in Hastings, with the plan to start with a one-day quarter horse meet in North Platte and Gering, with eventually running 30-day meets at all three tracks.

Residents voiced their concerns ranging from the socio-economic impacts on the community to the ability of the track to make a profit.

Omaha attorney Brian Jorde, who also addressed the council, estimates the track will bring 1.7 million people to the city annually, with 33 percent of those visitors coming from out of state.

It would also employ around 275 people with an annual payroll of $5 million. Jorde predicts the casino will generate new taxes in excess of $1.4 million to the city and county, as well as $8 million annually to state’s property tax relief fund.

The application now advances to the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission for licensing approval.

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