Warren Buffett Weighs in on ‘Anti-Native American’ Nebraska Casino Opposition Campaign

Posted on: October 29, 2020, 04:45h. 

Last updated on: October 29, 2020, 05:32h.

Warren Buffett is no fan of gambling, and the billionaire investor won’t be backing gambling expansion next week at the ballot in his native Nebraska. But the Omaha resident has taken exception to a mailer opposing expansion for its “anti-Native American” tone, The Omaha World-Herald reports.

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett is irked that the mailers quoted his words and used his image in a campaign he perceives is anti-Native American. (Image: Getty)

The campaign mailers were created by a group with ties to Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. They bear Buffett’s image and quote his words about casino gambling being “a big loser for everyone.” But Buffett told the Herald Wednesday that the rest of the language is “inappropriate” and a “dog whistle” that plays to racial prejudices.

“I would never have approved my name and photo being associated with an ad so worded,” he said.

According to the Herald, the mailers warn that authorizing casino gaming would open the floodgates for “Indian casinos” to be built across Nebraska. These enterprises would not pay taxes, it adds.

Gaming by Default

The picture it paints is somewhat distorted. If approved, the three ballot measures would amend the state constitution to authorize casino gaming at Nebraska’s licensed horse racing tracks. But it would only permit Native American casinos by default, since under federal law tribes are permitted to operate class III gaming on their reservations provided it is offered commercially elsewhere in the state.

However, in this case, the tribes would need to negotiate compacts with the state that would likely lay out terms for some form of revenue-share payments.

The mailers were devised by a group calling itself Keep the Good Life Inc., which has launched a media blitz opposing the ballot measures, and last week received a donation of $250k from Ricketts.

CEO of Ho-Chunk Lance Morgan called the mailer a “purposeful scare tactic.”

“The fact it has racial overtones is disturbing,” he added. “It’s a tactic from a bygone era.”

Not About Horses?

The campaign to place the measures on the ballot was almost entirely bankrolled by Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, as well as the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. Ho-Chunk has owned the Atokad Park racetrack in Sioux City since 2012.

Pat Loontjer, executive director for another opposition campaign, Gambling with the Good Life, said she suspects Ho-Chunk’s goal all along was to open up casino gaming for the tribes under the guise of saving the horse racing industry.

“You got to look at who’s putting up (the money),” she said. “Those are Indians. It’s an Indian petition. I don’t believe they care diddly about the horses.”