Omaha Casino Hoping to Break Ground by Late Spring

Nebraska State Seal With Gavel And Casino Background
Representatives from th Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Ho-Chunk Inc. are hoping to break ground on their Omaha casino by late spring.

According to Lynne McNally, Executive Vice-President of the Nebraska Horsemen:

“It’s going to be a massive undertaking, there will be a hotel in Lincoln, the facility in Omaha will look much different than it looks now but I think Nebraskans will be very, very thrilled with the end result, and we can’t wait for them to open.”

Before the construction can begin, the existing race tracks need to secure their gaming licenses but before they can get those, the rules and regulations for gaming needs have to be approved.

These rules and regulations were written and green-lighted by regulators last December. They are now at the Attorney General’s Office for consideration after which, they would be sent to the Governor’s office for his signature. After that, the regulations will go the Secretary of State’s office and after five days there, they will take effect.

Temporary Gaming Facility

The $200 million WarHorse Casino in Omaha will be developed by WarHorse Gaming LLC, a division of Ho-Chunk Inc. The casino will introduce casino gaming at the existing Horsemen’s Park racing track in the City. Once the construction is complete, the WarHorse Casino in Omaha will have at least 1,200 slot machines, live and simulcast horse racing, gaming tables, live entertainment, bars, a coffee shop, and food hall.

WarHorse gaming is also expected to put up a temporary facility with gaming machines ten months after the start of construction. The transitional site will be used until the completion of the project, which is expected to be two years after breaking ground. A second casino, to be named WarHorse Casino Lincoln, is also in the pipeline of the partners. That project is expected to move “at a faster pace” since the existing facility at the site is newer. According to McNally, a transitional site will also be built there four to five months after its ground breaking.

Retail Sports Betting

Aside from the Nevada-style casino gaming, Nebraskans will be able to enjoy retail sports betting at the upcoming casinos. A bill legalizing sports betting in the state was signed into a law last year by Governor Pete Ricketts. The bill will allow legal sports betting at brick and mortar locations.

Legal Nebraska sports betting was supposed to launch this year but delays in the processing have pushed the launch date back. Still, Nebraska’s Horsemen are hoping that everything will be in place when their WarHorse casinos open. Right now, the target date for the Nebraska retain sports betting launch is before fall, when the next NFL season begins.

Senators OK Nebraska Sports Betting But Not on Instate Teams’ Home Games

Odds Board and Money
Senators amended the Nebraska sports betting bill on Thursday to ban sports betting on games involving Nebraska sports teams when they are playing on the state and level the playing field for Keno parlor operators.

The two changes were made in an effort to get the votes of fellow senators who opposed the initial bill. The amendment was added on a 31-4 vote.

Lawmakers must now vote on the bill once again before it goes to the desk of Gov. Pete Ricketts who opposed the casino ballot measure but said he would respect the will of the voting public.

The proponents of LB561 now hope that the amendment will ensure that they can get the 33 out of the 49 super majority vote that will be ultimately required to implement the bill on final enactment.

Attracting the Votes of Opposition

Under the amendment, legal Nebraska sports betting would be allowed, excluding the home games of interstate teams. The change would apply to schools including the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Creighton University Bluejays.

That change was added to attract the votes of some senators who oppose Nebraska sports betting because they do not want to legalize sports bets on the state’s collegiate teams, arguing that wagering on their games puts undue pressure on Nebraska’s student athletes.

Protecting Keno Parlors

The new measure also requires keno games played at casinos to operate under the same regulations as other venues that already offer it. Lawmakers agreed to this change to address the concerns of Keno Parlors that were worried about losing business and cities that receive tax revenue from Keno to pay for community projects.

Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, who sponsored the amendment, said that he was motivated largely by an effort to protect keno parlors, particularly the one in Ralston that will be in competition with a casino 10 blocks away. By leveling the playing field, the city of Ralston will continue to secure the “significant source of revenue” from the Ralston keno parlor.

Nebraska Sports Betting Bill Gets Past Round One

Nebraska On US Map

Lawmakers advanced the Nebraska sports betting bill on Wednesday, with state senators approving legislative Bill 561 by a vote of 37-5.

The measure would regulate sports betting and casino gambling in the Cornhusker State. Under the bill, the Nebraska Gaming Commission, which will merge with the State Racing Commission, will be created to undertake that task.

A Clear Mandate

Bill author Sen. Tom Briese of Albion said that he is personally opposed to legalizing Nebraska sports betting and casino gambling. However, he argued that lawmakers received a clear mandate from the people who voted to approved the constitutional amendment. Briese says they need to pass the bill to give guidance to the industry in Nebraska.

LB 561 includes three ballot measures approved by Nebraska voters during last November’s election: Casino gambling would be allowed at the state’s six licensed horse tracks, sports betting would only be allowed in the casinos, and prohibiting betting on high school events, minor leagues, and other sporting events involving athletes under 18 years old. The bill will now move to the second round of consideration. It needs two more votes before heading to the office of Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Some Provisions of LB 561

The legislative bill prohibits patrons from using credit cards in casinos and also includes a voluntary ban on risk-gamblers. The age requirement for horse racing betting patrons was raised to 21 to match that of Nebraska sports betting and casino players. The measure also prevents prop bets on individual performances by athletes from Nebraska.

Purchase of keno tickets from a mobile device or the use of electronic tickets would be authorized at keno operators by persons 19 or older. This change was designed to help protect a revenue stream that currently is the source of funds for community improvement projects.