Permanent venue by 2025

Nebraska: Elite files for Fonner Park casino project license; temporary venue expected by late 2022

Rendering of the Grand Island Casino Resort in Fonner Park, Nebraska.
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The company planning to build a casino at Grand Island’s Fonner Park filed for a gaming license on Tuesday, June 28. If approved by the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission, it could mean a temporary casino at the site by the end of this year.

In a press release, Elite Casino Resorts announced that they applied for the license under the name Grand Island Casino ResortThe thoroughbred horse racing facility first announced in April 2021that Elite Casino would be its casino operating partner. Both parties are hoping for quick approval of the license application.

"Should approval be received, Grand Island Casino Resort at Fonner Park will open as a temporary casino inside the existing Fonner Park facility by late 2022 with 300 slot machines, five table games, and a grab and go dining option," said Dan Kehl, CEO for Elite Casino Resorts in a statement.

Elite Casino Resorts said that construction on the permanent casino will start in 2023, with completion expected sometime in 2025. The resort will include a 37,000-square-foot casino floor with 650 slot machines and 20 table games, plus a sportsbook.

Among non-gaming amenities are four restaurants including a rooftop dining experience, a show lounge, and sports bar, a 116-room boutique hotel, a salon and spa, gift shop, an indoor and outdoor pool with an expansive deck, and a 400-stall parking garage.

The company said the project will provide a seamless connection to the existing grandstand at the horse track while also providing great views of the state fairgrounds on the west and the horse races on the east, becoming an entertainment hub to all elements of Fonner Park, as reported by NTV News. After the license approval, the business will also begin taking job applications.

The state regulator began taking applications this month, after Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signed off rules to allow casino gambling in the Cornhusker State. The Racing Commission has already granted WarHorse Gaming -an entity formed by Ho-Chunk Inc. and the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association- provisional licenses to open casinos in the state's two largest cities: Omaha and Lincoln.