Nebraska: WarHorse Gaming's temporary Omaha casino set to open its doors in June 2024

Nebraska: WarHorse Gaming's temporary Omaha casino set to open its doors in June 2024
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WarHorse Gamingannounced Tuesday its plans to start construction on its Omaha casino, in Nebraska, in June this year and partially open the new facility in June or July 2024.

WarHorse Gaming is an entity formed by Ho-Chunk Inc. —the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska— and the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association to launch WarHorse casinos in Lincoln and Omaha.

In September, Lincoln's WarHorse casino opened a temporary facility with 433 slot machines. Lynne McNally, CEO of Nebraska Horsemen, said Omaha's first opening next summer will be a supercharged version of Lincoln's, with more than double the number of gaming positions. The final facility is expected to open about four months later, by the end of 2024.

"It's going to be fantastic," she said, as reported by KETV NewsWatch 7. "We'll have table games, restaurant options, sports betting, and simulcasting."

The next phase of construction on Lincoln's full facility is expected to begin in July 2023. It'll double the size of the current spot and add 500 parking stalls, featuring 870 slot machines, six to ten table games, and an expanded dining area.

The gaming initiative to allow casinos in Nebraska was first approved by voters in November 2020, but faced delays since. According to McNally, the project faced "a series of frustrating events." She cited the time it took to get rules and regulations in place and the state of the economy just as they were about to tackle a $500 million project. 

"Unfortunately, we started the process at about the same time the economy tanked and interest rates went through the roof," she said, as reported by the above-mentioned media. "That has been difficult to navigate, but we've done that effectively, and that's done."

Since breaking ground in July 2022 on its Omaha casino at Horsemen's Park near 63rd and Q streets, construction has focused on updating the sewer and water systems, road work, and laying the foundations for the five-story parking garage. The company expects the resort to be up and running in the next 13 to 14 months.

"We're expecting to fulfill our promise of keeping the money in Nebraska," McNally said. "We're hoping those Nebraskans who've been driving across the river to Council Bluffs will stay in Omaha and spend their money in Omaha, keeping their tax revenue in Omaha and in the state."

Nebraska's collected about $6.9 million in tax revenue since September from the two temporary racetrack casinos, WarHorse Lincoln and the Grand Island Casino Resort. Just last month,the two facilities in Lincoln and Grand Island saw an increase in the number of visitors they attracted, leading to a record-breaking amount of gaming taxes. The two properties combined to generate nearly $1.55 million in taxes.