Nebraska study reveals Bellevue as a good racetrack location

June 6, 2024 8:19 PM
Photo: Hastings Exposition & Racing (courtesy photo)
  • Mia Doyle, Special to CDC Gaming Reports
June 6, 2024 8:19 PM
  • Mia Doyle, Special to CDC Gaming Reports

An amended study commissioned by the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission shows that a quarter horse racetrack in Bellevue could significantly benefit the state’s horse racing industry.

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The Innovation Group’s updated analysis follows an initial study from late 2023, which identified Bellevue as the leading revenue-generating market for casino expansion in Nebraska.

The study suggests that the track could be paired with two other Nebraska tracks to create a circuit, and shows that the Nebraska quarter horse population is sufficient to support three quarter horse tracks. Belle Vue Downs officials highlight that Nebraska’s 80,000 registered quarter horses surpass populations in states like Iowa and New Mexico, both with thriving quarter horse racing.

“Once the racetrack opens, we would expect even more quarter horse breeder interest from across the country with our competitive purse structure of $200,000 per race day,” said John Hassett of Belle Vue Downs. “We expect it to be very popular with the public because quarter horse racing provides a faster-paced race experience. It’s all about speed, exciting to watch and offers a quick turnaround time between races, and Bellevue is the most logical location given its proximity to large population center in the east.”

While a report from earlier this year suggested that the proposed racetrack casino would reduce the income of existing Nebraska racetrack casinos, the amended study indicated that Belle Vue Downs would not adversely affect thoroughbred racing at existing tracks.

“Not only is the revenue figure conservative, we know that a new racetrack and casino in Bellevue, along with the proposed regional indoor/outdoor waterpark, will also bring other huge attractions such as hotels, restaurants and other entertainment options all combining for a huge economic development impact for the city of Bellevue, Sarpy County and the State of Nebraska,” said Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike. “It’s kind of hard to argue the benefits that we’re going to get from it.”

Bellevue could also draw significant revenue from neighboring states, supporting efforts to lower property taxes and maximize tax revenue for both state and local governments.