Temporary casino to open June 12

Nebraska's third licensed racetrack casino set to open in Columbus next month

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Nebraska's third racetrack casino is set to start welcoming guests in a month. The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission has now approved a gaming license for a temporary casino at Ag Park in Columbus. The transitory venue, to be run by Caesars Entertainment, will begin operating on June 12.  

Don Ostert, general manager for Harrah’s Columbus Racing and Casino, noted that the casino will be open from 9 am to 1 am daily and will have 250 slot machines along with electronic table games. The temporary casino will join transitory gaming venues in Lincoln and Grand Island, which have now been operating for several months.

The permanent 28,000-square-foot Harrah's Columbus, which will be the first Caesars destination in Nebraska, is set to open in the first half of 2024. It will house over 500 slot machines, 14 table games, and a sportsbook along US Highway 81 on the northwest side of the city. The property will continue to feature the 1-mile thoroughbred track, which is the longest one in the state.

Temporary casinos bring in millions of dollars in taxes

Earlier this month, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission released figures that highlight the income generated from the temporary casinos in the state. The WarHorse Casino in Lincoln and the Grand Island Casino Resort combined to pay just short of $1.4 million in gaming taxes in April, which was the state's casino industry's second-highest month ever. Before that in March, the two casinos paid a whopping $1.55 million in taxes.

Nebraska levies a casino tax of 20% of the gross revenue, which suggests that the two casinos combined to make under $7 million before expenses in April, which was over $700,000 less than in March.

While the Lincoln casino has generated nearly $6.2 million in taxes since it opened in late September, the Grand Island Casino has contributed nearly $2.2 million in taxes since it opened in late December.

WarHorse's Lincoln casino

The two casinos are planning expansions soon. While the WarHorse Lincoln casino is set to add sports betting next month, the Grand Island casino will add craps, roulette and blackjack tables, additional slot machines and other amenities later in the summer.

WarHorse also plans to start construction on its Omaha casino in late June or early July and hopes to have its main gaming floor open sometime in summer of 2024. Construction on the permanent Grand Island casino won’t start until September, after this year’s State Fair, and it’s not likely to be complete until late 2024 or early 2025.

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