Nebraska's two racetrack casinos generate record-breaking $1.55M in gaming taxes in March

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In March, Nebraska's two temporary racetrack casinos, WarHorse Lincoln and the Grand Island Casino Resort, 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 last month.

The figure represents the highest amount recorded in the roughly seven months that the casinos have been operating in Nebraska, easily eclipsing the previous record of $1.34 million, which was set in February. The state's casino tax rate is 20% of gross revenue, which means the two casinos combined to make more than $7.7 million before expenses in March.

WarHorse generated more than $956,000 in gaming taxes, surpassing its previous record set in February by nearly $100,000. Meanwhile, casino taxes at the Grand Island casino were slightly more than $592,000, about $109,000 more than in February, as reported by the Lincoln Journal Star.

As they keep attracting more and more visitors to their operations, both casinos are looking to do expansions in the near future that could boost taxes amounts even more. The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission on April 14 approved plans for the Grand Island casino to start an expansion to its temporary casino at Fonner Park to add table games.

Vincent Fiala, the casino’s general manager, said the property plans to add craps roulette and blackjack tables to its existing operation. The expansion also would include additional slot machines, restrooms on the casino floor, an expanded dining area, and space for entertainment on the weekends.  

Fiala said it would likely be July before table games and the additional amenities are up and running; and that the actual timeline will depend on how long construction takes and how long it takes to hire the train dealers. 

On the same day, the commission also approved a framework for the Lincoln casino to start offering sports betting. Lynne McNally, CEO of the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which is a partner in the Lincoln casino, said it has selected a vendor and ison track to start offering sports wagering by the end of May. 

As the two casinos keep expanding their footprint, a new competitor nears launch. Caesars Entertainment is building a new casino and horse racing track on the northwest side of Columbus. The Harrah's casino and sportsbook is estimated to span 28,000 square feet and feature 500 slot machines and 14 table gamesalong U.S. 81. Completion of the full property is expected in the first half of 2024.

But meanwhile, the company will bring a temporary casino to Ag Park, which will offer more than 200 slot machines. According to Tom Sage, executive director of the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission,the casino hopes to be open sometime in June. 

Sage said the commission chose not to vote on the casino's application for a temporary operating license at its recent meeting and instead deferred a decision to its next meeting, as reported by Lincoln Journal Star.