Feb. 8 Lincoln Journal Star (Neb.) Sports gambling
Two years and three months after it was overwhelmingly approved by voters, sports betting is technically legal in Nebraska.
But there won’t be any wagers on Sunday’s Super Bowl, the largest betting day every year, and there’s a good chance that there won’t be any legal bets placed in Nebraska on this year’s March Madness NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the second biggest betting event in the U.S.
That’s because with the rules and regulations for sports betting only recently published by the Secretary of State and going into effect on Feb. 1, there is no infrastructure in place at the state’s two licensed casinos, and mobile sports betting is not allowed in the state.
The lack of infrastructure at Lincoln’s WarHorse Casino and Elite Casino Resorts is understandable. The casinos needed the rules and regulations to be set before they could begin jumping through the hoops needed to offer sports betting.
A major reason for the delay is Gov. Pete Ricketts, who appeared to slow implementation of two other voter-approved initiatives he opposed — Medicaid expansion and casino gambling — through administrative delays.
Ricketts, who funneled $100,000 into the campaign opposing the casino gambling initiative that was eventually approved by voters by a 65%-to-35% margin, took two months last year to sign off on the rules and regulations for casino licenses, which had to be implemented before the Nebraska Racing and Gambling Commission began work on sports betting rules.
In contrast, the process to approve sports betting took about two months less than the approval of casino licenses. That was largely because Gov. Jim Pillen signed off on the rules on Jan. 27, just 17 days after they were approved by the Attorney General.
That quick action by Pillen, who took office on Jan. 5, couldn’t have made up for time lost in the slow approval process of the casino licensing.
But it was responsible, fast action to fulfill the will of the voters — and, in furtherance of his own priorities, to bring in additional property tax relief revenue to the state.
WarHorse, which became the state’s first operating casino in September, now must apply for and be granted a vendor license for its sports betting provider, and the commission will have to inspect and approve any equipment used for sports betting.
That process, state and WarHorse officials say, will take “several weeks,” eliminating the possibility of March Madness betting. But WarHorse should be the first Nebraska casino to offer sports betting this spring and have everything up and running smoothly when football season kicks off in August.
That will be nearly three years after voters said yes to sports betting, far longer than it should have taken to bring all the gambling options to Nebraskans, who clearly wanted to go to casinos in the state.
Feb. 9 Toledo Blade (Ohio) Leading the green boom
Business media giant Bloomberg reports that the red states of Ohio and Indiana are in the midst of a green energy boom, much of it supplied by solar panels.
Greater Toledo is the U.S. leader in producing utility-grade solar panels.
Bloomberg says Ohio and Indiana will soon trail only California and Texas for solar panel installations. This is an industry in which Toledo shines.
Fifteen gigawatts worth of new photovoltaic panels are expected to go up this year bringing enough power to supply 12 million homes, according to Bloomberg.
The Ohio solar power surge is happening despite the General Assembly’s thumb on the scale favoring fossil fuels. Ohio lawmakers have given local communities the power to stop solar farms, while regulations regarding fossil fuel development are reserved solely for the state.
The federal Inflation Reduction Act has hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for the development of renewable energy. Big projects like the Intel computer chip fabrication plant are increasingly committed to a 100 percent renewable supply.
With the federal incentives, a utility-grade solar farm is less than half the cost of an efficient natural gas-fired power plant in Ohio, according to Bloomberg.
Greater Toledo should get more support from Ohio lawmakers in the form of leveling the playing field with coal and oil-powered energy. The growing preference by large energy users for power supplied without a carbon footprint assures a future market.