Casino gambling in Nebraska completed its first full year with $89 million spent on slot machines, table games, and sports betting. A significant portion of that revenue, nearly $51.5 million, was spent at Lincoln’s WarHorse Casino, which saw $50.2 million spent on slots and $1.3 million on sports betting.
The first full year ended with a bang, as the state’s four racetrack casinos brought in nearly $8.9 million in revenue in December alone. The figure for the last month of 2023 marked the second straight record monthly amount.
Journal Star cited Pete Graziano, Vice President of Marketing at WarHorse, who said casino officials are pleased with the full-year revenue numbers: “We’re very happy with the results we’ve seen so far.” He said that when the casino opened in September 2022, WarHorse knew there was a lot of demand for casino gambling in Nebraska, “but we weren’t sure what to expect.”
Graziano added that the company hopes to have its expanded Lincoln casino operation open sometime in the fourth quarter. Once the expansion is complete, it is expected to double the size of the current casino floor space, increasing the number of slot machines from 425 to 800 and adding 10 table games. “We’re really looking forward to it,” he said.
The expansion this year will however not include the hotel, construction of which Graziano said will start “soon after” the casino project is complete. Work also continues on Legacy Downs at WarHorse, a seven-eighths-mile horse track that is set to be ready later this year. “We think there’ll be some live racing later this year,” Graziano said.
Another casino in Nebraska that was open for a full 12 months was the Grand Island Casino and Resort, which raked in nearly $30 million in revenue for the year. Most of that revenue, $27.8 million, came from slots, while $1.1 million came from electronic table games and about $730,000 from regular table games. The casino additionally raked in about $245,000 from sports betting.
Vincent Fiala, Grand Island Casino General Manager, said results for the year came in “just above our initial projections.” Fiala also stated it was a feather in the casino’s cap to add table games and a sportsbook to the casino during the year. “The expansion to our temporary casino was a success for operations and for our guests,” he said.
Vincent Fiala, Grand Island Casino General Manager Fiala said that the construction of the permanent casino and resort has been steady, although recent cold weather has slowed the progress to some extent. The full casino and resort are expected to open in the first quarter of 2025.
Nebraska has two other racetrack gambling operations that were open for only one part of the year. Last year in June, Caesars Entertainment opened a temporary Harrah’s Casino at Ag Park in Columbus. In its six-and-a-half months of operation, it brought in nearly $7.4 million in revenue. Out of this, a little over $7 million came from slot machines, and the rest came from electronic table games. Harrah’s has not yet opened a sportsbook.
Caesars is also constructing a brand new racetrack and casino at a new location northwest of town that it expects to open later this year.
Harrah’s Casino, Ag Park in Columbus Although WarHorse has yet to open even a temporary casino in Omaha, it did open a sports betting window at Horsemen’s Park in November. The facility brought in nearly $224,000 total in November and December.
The $89 million spent at the state’s racetrack casinos generated about $17.8 million in casino taxes, of which, 70%, or nearly $12.5 million, went into a state property tax credit fund.
Cities and counties received 25% of the taxes, which amounted to nearly $4.5 million. The city of Lincoln and Lancaster County received about $1.3 million each in casino taxes from the WarHorse Lincoln operation. About $445,000 each went to the state general fund and compulsive gamblers assistance fund.