Opening Of Nebraska Casino In Grand Island Delayed

Written By Veronica Sparks on December 2, 2022
Temporary location of Grand Island Casino Resort pushes back opening date

The temporary location of Grand Island Casino Resort began construction back in September. The Nebraska casino was scheduled to open before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

However, with unexpected roadblocks emerging, residents of Grand Island will have to wait a bit longer to test their gambling skills.

According to Chris Kotulak, CEO of Fonner Park, supply chain issues have prevented the delivery of necessary construction materials. He also says labor shortages are contributing to the temporary casino’s delayed opening.

The new opening date for the temporary casino is tentatively set for mid-December 2022. Once completed, it will be located in the Fonner Park concourse and will feature:

  • Live table games
  • 280 slot machines
  • Snack bar area

Fonner Park CEO ‘satisfied with the pace’ of Nebraska casino project

Kotulak did, however, praise local suppliers for their contributions to moving the project forward. He said:

“Fortunately, we have many local contractors that we do business with here at Fonner Park. They provided everything they could at the time. Of course, they have other customers as well.”

While the local contractors couldn’t provide the temporary casino construction with all the materials needed to open in November, Kotulak is confident that the project is in a good place. “We’re satisfied with the pace that we’re on right now.” He added.

In 2023, the temporary casino will add horse betting – along with several additional table games like roulette, craps, and Blackjack.

Iowa casino giant championing permanent casino construction

Back in April of 2021, Fonner Park and Elite Casino Resorts announced their partnership following the voter-approved casino initiatives that passed in 2020.

The Nebraska racetrack and the Iowa casino giant began planning the construction of the $100 million Grand Island Casino Resort project. Construction will begin at Fonner Park in the Fall of 2023 and a grand opening for the permanent casino in 2025.

The new casino resort will have a gaming floor spanning 37,500 sq. ft. that features:

  • 650 slot machines (with the possibility of upping that number to 850)
  • 20 table games
  • Elite Sportsbook

Other property amenities for the Nebraska casino include:

  • A five-story boutique hotel with 116 guestrooms and rooftop dining
  • Indoor and outdoor pools
  • A full-service salon and spa
  • A VIP lounge
  • Ruthie’s Steak & Seafood restaurant
  • A sports bar and grill
  • A family dining restaurant with grab-and-go options

Grand Island Casino doesn’t have a Nebraska casino license yet

While the license for the permanent casino was applied for back in June, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission has yet to approve it. Should delays in approval occur, this could push back the opening of the temporary casino even further.

The General Manager of the resort, Vince Fiala, doesn’t think the approval will be a problem, however. The resort has moved forward with filling job positions and is still hiring for a handful of job openings for the temporary casino.

“The commission here realizes the importance of getting gaming to the area,” Fiala explained. “They were able to get Lincoln open. Now we should be next in line here to get us open.”

Fiala also explained that Elite officials are unconcerned with not having the license yet because the company knows the casino business. “We’ve done this before,” he added.

“This would be the fourth casino that the Elite Casino Resort Property has opened. There’s another fifth one going.”

A positive economic impact of Grand Island Casino Resort

So far, the construction of the temporary casino alone has generated 100 new jobs for residents in Grand Island. Alison Nicholson, the resort casino’s marketing director, points to the influx of residents taking positions at the casino as an economic jump start.

“Bringing in our casino, we’re creating jobs,” she said. “Therefore, that’s going to put money into the economy and will create more construction out there. So, it’s going to be like a waterfall, basically.”

Casino officials say that the development of the new casino will bring in more revenue and even more workers, creating additional growth in the city’s housing market.

Photo by PlayIA
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Veronica Sparks

Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, WI, who thrives on fast-paced news and current events. She’s been published by Digital Trends, CinemaBlend, and 4B, and when she’s not scouring breaking news sites, you can find her binge-watching "New Girl" for the 100th time.

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