October numbers indicate Lincoln casino may be taking slot machine dollars from Iowa

October numbers indicate Lincoln casino may be taking slot machine dollars from Iowa
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Lincoln's WarHorse Casino followed up a phenomenal first week with an equally solid first full month.

According to information released Monday by the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission, the casino generated just more than $854,000 in gaming tax revenue in October.

The state's gaming tax is 20% of revenue, which means WarHorse made just north of $4.27 million last month.

Local casino officials have declined to disclose what their 433 slot machines are paying out on average, and Racing and Gaming Commission officials have not yet made that information public, though they have said they plan to.

Assuming a 90% average payout would mean visitors to the casino dropped nearly $43 million, or close to $1.4 million a day, into slot machines during October.

“The October gaming tax revenue report provides a more complete picture of gaming tax revenue generated over a full four-week period,” said Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission Executive Director Tom Sage. “This data is key to helping us gauge future tax revenue generation and distribution from other gaming projects across Nebraska."

The October report comes on the heels of nearly $286,000 in taxes the casino generated in September, when it was open only seven days. That means to date, the Lincoln casino has generated $1,140,779 in taxes in just 38 days of operation.

Nearly $800,000 of that — 70% of the total — has gone into a fund that will provide relief to the state's property taxpayers. The city of Lincoln and Lancaster County — which each get 12.5% of the tax generated by WarHorse — have netted nearly $143,000. The state general fund and the compulsive gamblers assistance fund have each received a little more than $28,500.

The Lincoln casino will have the racetrack casino market all to itself for at least another month. Fonner Park in Grand Island is hoping to have a temporary casino open sometime in mid- to late-December, while WarHorse is planning to open a temporary casino at Horsemen's Park in Omaha sometime in the spring.

But even without a casino in Omaha, it appears that the opening of the first state-regulated casino in Nebraska may be pulling gamblers away from casinos in Iowa.

According to reports from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, gamblers collectively spent about $320.4 million in October on slot machines at the Ameristar, Harrah's and Horseshoe casinos in Council Bluffs. That was down from about $330.8 million in September and $338.8 million in October 2021.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or [email protected].