Nebraska: Grand Island’s Temporary Casino in Fonner Park Slated to Open by Christmas

Grand Island has been waiting on its temporary casinos for months now. The temporary casino will precede the permanent facility and will be operational for a few years before the construction of the permanent facility is concluded around the existing race track. 

The good news is that officials expect the temporary casino to open its doors before Christmas. According to the CEO of Fonner Park Chris Kotulak, the temporary facility should welcome its first round of guests by Christmas if the state racing commission provides the necessary approvals for the operation of the temporary casino by December 14th.

Elite Casino Resorts announced that it planned to commence construction of the temporary facility situated near Fonner Park on September 8th. The temporary facility has been designed to offer punters in Grand Island approximately 300 slot machines and table games that will consist of roulette, blackjack, as well as craps.

The temporary facility is also expected to have a fully functional kitchen as well as a bar. The operators of the temporary facility had estimated that it would open its doors in November, just in time for the Thanksgiving holidays this year.

In addition to the slot machines, the temporary facility will also contain betting kiosks where punters can wager on live events, as well as simulcast horse races. Elite Casino Resorts, which has remained Fonner Park’s solid partner, has been in charge of organizing, as well as funding the remodel.

The development of the permanent facility at Fonner Park racetrack, on the other hand, is anticipated to cost approximately $100 million. The venue is expected to boast a massive 37,000-square-foot casino floor capable of accommodating at least 650 slot machines and a possible 850 slots in the future.

In addition to the slot machines, guests will also be allowed to enjoy at least 20 table games. In addition to the table games, punters and visitors to the facility will also be treated to a decked-out sportsbook lounge. The permanent facility will also include a total of 116 hotel rooms, as well as an outdoor and indoor pool. As you can expect, the casino facility plans to offer a wide range of dining options from fine dining restaurants to casual family dining options.

More racinos are coming to the state

The Grand Casino will be the second casino in the state to launch operations at one of Nebraska’s licensed horse tracks after state residents voted to approve casino betting in November 2020. This constitutional amendment is what paved the way for all of the 6 racetracks in the state to add slot and table games.

Warhorse Casino also opened doors to its temporary facility this year. WarHorse beat other casinos to become the first legal casino to welcome punters in the state in September after months of enduring a long and dreary approval process. WarHorse Gaming materialized as a result of a strategic partnership existing between the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

To provide punters with amazing facilities and amenities, WarHorse will be in charge of overseeing the overhaul from racino to casino in all of the 3 racetracks belonging to the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. WarHorse announced that it would dedicate at least $200 million to transform the Lincoln Race Course into the Warhorse casino.

Once the permanent facility has been completed, Warhorse expects to welcome its first series of guests before the end of 2014. The permanent facility is going to be much bigger and will consist of 1300 slot machines, a wide range of table games, as well as a high-end sportsbook.

The massive gaming floor will be designed to complement the hotel, which will contain at least 200 rooms of all shapes and sizes. The facility will also include multiple dining options, as well as a convention and meeting area.  In addition to its temporary facility, Warhorse also has plans to break ground on its project in Omaha, which will be the bigger of its 2 casino projects.

Sports betting also going to be reality soon

Much later this year, the state also approved sports betting in person so that the newly launched racinos can also offer sportsbook action. Apart from the Fonner Park racetrack, the only other racetracks that have commenced the construction of their temporary casinos’ facilities are Omaha and Lincoln.

Sports betting is also inching closer to being a reality in Nebraska after the state gaming regulator approved the sports wagering rules this October. While sports betting is still a ways to go in Cornhusker State, all signs indicate that a successful launch should be expected in the early years of 2023.

While a few more details still need to be ironed out, the initial plans for launching sports betting in the state have been made but the legislation is still yet to be finalized. The good news is that since the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission already approved the rules, racetrack casinos will soon be allowed to make sports betting in the state a reality.

Approvals are still required by AG Doug Petersen, as well as Governor Pete Ricketts. While it is still not clear when punters will be allowed to place actual sports bets, the general rules on what punters should expect to remain relatively straightforward. In the state, sports betting will still only be confined to horse racetrack casinos.

Additionally, the restrictions on in-state collegiate events and games will still hold. This will make sure that the approved laws remain in line with what Nebraska’s legislature adopted earlier this year. It is also worth noting that as per the rules, online sports wagers have not been included as part of the latest framework.

This implies that sports betting will strictly be limited to in-person wagers as no online bets will be permitted within or outside the racetracks. Neighboring states also have similar wagering frameworks. For instance, Illinois also has a ban on wagers that involve college sports teams. The only difference is that Illinois remains open to legalizing its iGaming market while Nebraska remains adamant that iGaming legalization will not occur.

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