LINCOLN — A racetrack without a racetrack apparently isn’t a racetrack, Nebraska’s attorney general said Monday.
Jon Bruning, the state’s top attorney, issued a legal opinion stating that a bill designed to help the state’s ailing Thoroughbred horse-racing industry is probably unconstitutional.
The opinion casts doubt on whether Gov. Dave Heineman will sign Legislative Bill 256 into law this week.
The bill, which was given final-round approval by the Nebraska Legislature last week, would allow the Lincoln Race Course to continue to take bets on races broadcast via satellite but not require the facility to conduct live racing.
The Nebraska Constitution allows parimutuel betting on horse races but only when the betting is conducted within a “licensed racetrack enclosure.”
The attorney general stated Monday that it was doubtful that a court would define a racetrack as one that doesn’t have a track on which to run horses, and that would make the bill unconstitutional.
The governor, who requested the legal opinion, had not announced as of Monday night whether he would sign or veto the bill.
The Lincoln racetrack will close after the 2012 season so that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln can convert the former State Fair Park into a complex of research and classroom buildings.
LB 256 would allow Lincoln to transfer its racing dates to other tracks for 15 years while continuing to take bets on simulcast races. That, backers have said, will allow Lincoln to accumulate sufficient revenue from simulcasting so they can build a new live racing venue after 15 years.
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