During the mid-1990s, the Nebraska legislature was lobbied by the ailing Aksarben racetrack which claimed it could save itself by becoming a combination racetrack-casino (or “racino”).
Thanks to a strong group of concerned citizens who educated themselves and others about predatory gambling, the Nebraska Legislature rejected the intense casino lobbying campaign.
The Aksarben parcel was transformed into a mixed use 70 acre development project that included restaurants, retail and office buildings, apartments and townhouses, hotels, a fitness center, a movie theater and a park with an ampitheater.
On the same parcel, the University of Nebraska at Omaha built the new $37.4 million College of Information Sciences and Technology building as well as other associated facilities and classrooms.
First Data Resources (FDR) also moved into the location, creating an estimated 2,000 new jobs over five years.
By 2016 these initiatives had benefited all of Omaha,attracting over $1 billion in new residences, businesses, entertainment centers, and the new UNO College of Business.
From a blighted racetrack area in continual decline, Nebraska’s leaders had created an economic engine for all of Omaha.
You can read more about it here.