The new temporary casino at Grand Island's Fonner Park, Nebraska, is expected to open ahead of Christmas. Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak hopes the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission gives final approval for the operation on December 14.
Vince Fiala, who will be the casino’s general manager, is also optimistic that the commission will give the property the green light. The temporary venue is being built inside the Fonner Park concourse. Work began September 8. When it opens, it will have 280 slot machines and kiosks for wagering on live and simulcast horse racing.
The temporary casino, which will have about 100 employees, will be used for two or three years. The permanent casino, which will be known as Grand Island Casino Resort at Fonner Park, is slated to open in 2024 or 2025.
“The Racing and Gaming Commission wanted to make sure that racing had a presence, and I appreciate that, so they’ve asked that we add additional television monitors and some wagering terminals where people can wager on horse racing in addition to whatever casino games they’re playing,” Kotulak stated, as reported by The Grand Island Independent.
People will still be able to bet on simulcast and live races at the Finish Line Restaurant, where keno operations will also continue. The footprint of the concourse will not change. Improvements made inside include the building of a long wall 30 feet tall.
The casino will be open from 8am to midnight Sunday through Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, gaming will begin at 8am and continue until 3am. Table games will most likely be added a few months after the opening. Among other things, the temporary casino will also include a snack bar. Elite Casino Resorts, which is Fonner’s partner in the casino, is paying for the remodeling.