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Nebraska’s First Casino To Open Sat Morning In Lincoln

Artist’s Drawing

    As expected, Nebraska’s first casino will open Saturday morning in Lincoln.

WarHorse Gaming had plans in place awaiting only approval of a license by the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission – which came Friday afternoon. 

    Nebraska voters in 2020 changed the state constitution to allow casinos at licensed horse tracks and WarHorse, funded by the Winnebago Tribe through its Ho-Chunk Inc economic arm, will start with a temporary casino in Lincoln.

      Ho-Chunk President and CEO Lance Morgan says it will have a 9,000-square-foot gaming floor, 433 slot machines, and both simulcast and live horse racing.

     It will be replaced about 18 months from now by a casino with more than 1,100 slots machines, 100 table games, a sportsbook, and both live and simulcast racing. 

       Final plans also call for a 200-room hotel, 3-story parking garage, and multiple dining options – including a steakhouse, sports bar, and café – to open by late 2024.

     Morgan says WarHorse is working on a similar complex at Omaha’s Horseman’s Park, but its temporary casino won’t open until April or May while most existing facilities are torn down. The permanent complex should also open in late 2024.

     Morgan says the third WarHorse casino will be at the former Atokad Park racetrack in South Sioux City, but calls that one “on the back burner” until the Lincoln and Omaha casinos are open. 

      No one’s sure what kind of a crowd will turn out tomorrow if the license is approved today by the Gaming Commission. WarHorse hasn’t done any advertising since opening wasn’t guaranteed until today. On the other hand, there’s also no Husker football, which could leave prospective gamblers with time on their hands.

      As for non-WarHorse casinos, Fonner Park in Grand Island hopes to open a temporary facility with 300 slots around Thanksgiving and Caesars announced a lease this week with the Platte County Fair Board for a temporary Columbus casino with 250 machines, but with no timeline given.

      Applications for licenses for casinos in other cities including Gering are currently going through a review process with the Gaming Commission that doesn’t have to be completed until 2025. 

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