05/28/2001 11:00PM

Nebraska tracks seek phone bets


Five racetracks in Nebraska have applied to the state racing commission to open telephone-betting operations, putting to the test a disputed bill that legalized the practice in 1992.

The applicants - Fonner Park, Columbus, Lincoln State Fair, and the state's two Horsemen's Parks - are challenging an opinion issued by the state attorney general in 1996 that telephone betting would likely violate the state's constitution. The attorney general had earlier ruled that offtrack betting was unconstitutional in rejecting a portion of a 1992 bill that also authorized "telephonic wagering."

Denny Oelschlager, the executive secretary of the Nebraska Racing Commission, said the attorney general was notified of the tracks' application plans and did not object. "It's possible that we may be able to work out an agreement with the attorney general where we could get an operation up and running under a test-case scenario," Oelschlager said.