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June 22, 2022Grand Island, Neb. |  By: AP

Nebraska rushes to build horse tracks despite few fans


GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - Horse races are regularly held in only two spots in Nebraska, but the tracks in Grand Island and Columbus are usually pretty quiet apart from the rumble of thoroughbreds that stomp past the often empty grandstands.

Suddenly, though, large and small communities throughout the state are clamoring to reopen mothballed tracks or build new ones. The reason is a push for casinos.

Due to a quirk in voter-backed initiatives that for the first time legalized casino gambling in Nebraska, only spots with state-sanctioned horse tracks can open casinos.

The sudden embrace of the sport has led to plenty of eye-rolling and more serious concerns about finding enough jockeys, exercise riders and veterinarians and whether spectators will actually show up for races.