New Nebraska Casino At Fonner Park Is Now Open

Written By Jarrett Huff on January 4, 2023 - Last Updated on January 11, 2023
A new casino at Fonner Park race track is now open in Nebraska

The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission approved an operating license for a temporary casino. The Nebraska casino, which opened on Dec. 27, will operate out of Grand Island’s Fonner Park horse racing track in partnership with Elite Casino Resorts.

It’s the state’s second licensed casino since voters approved an expansion of gambling at horse tracks back in 2020. WarHorse Casino Lincoln opened as the state’s first casino on Sept. 24.

Welcome to the temporary Nebraska casino at Grand Island’s Fonner Park

Fonner Park and Elite Casino Resorts announced their partnership to bring a casino to Grand Island in April 2021. Construction on the temporary casino began in September.

Ownership intended for the casino to open by the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but plans were delayed. Dan Kehl, CEO of Elite Casino Resorts, says he looks forward to the future of the casino’s operation:

“I thank the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission for their leadership and diligence in the process and approval of our application and look forward to a long future between Elite Casino Resorts, Fonner Park and Grand Island.”

The temporary casino features 300 slot machines, horse betting kiosks and a snack bar. The casino operates from 8 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Permanent Grand Island Casino Resort coming 2025

With the temporary casino now open, plans for a $100 million permanent casino project are underway.

Construction on the permanent Grand Island Casino Resort will take place in the fall after this year’s Nebraska State Fair. The casino will feature:

  • 650 slot machines
  • 20_S table games
  • A sportsbook
  • Restaurant
  • Hotel and other amenities

The grand opening should be sometime in 2025. Kehl believes the casino will have a positive effect on Grand Island. Kehl said the company is very fond of the community:

“We love the community. We’re Midwestern folks and the folks here in Grand Island really stood out to us as our kind of people. We thought that we can make a difference within the community. We’ve been very involved in our communities that we operate in.”

For the community, 20% of the casino’s revenue will go toward the property tax refund. This will create more tax relief for residents. Something the state of Nebraska has been attempting to achieve for several years.

Omaha and Columbus will also see new casino developments

In addition to permanent casinos in Lincoln and Grand Island, additional temporary casinos are coming to Omaha and Columbus. The Omaha casino is being developed by WarHorse.

While the one in Columbus will have involvement from Caesar’s Entertainment. The Omaha location won’t be available until the spring or summer of 2023.

As for the Columbus temporary casino, Caesar’s wants to open a facility at the horse track in AG Park. It has yet to receive a ruling on a license from the Attorney General’s Office.

As for a permanent Lincoln casino and resort, the plan is for a grand opening in November 2024. The casino plans to offer:

  • 1,100 slot machines
  • 100 table games
  • A sportsbook and sports bar
  • Live and simulcast horse racing

The Lincoln casino will also feature several restaurants and cafes with a 200-room hotel and parking garage.

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Jarrett Huff

Jarrett Huff is a former sports editor at Northern Star Media from Wonder Lake, Illinois. Friends and family will tell you he's an NBA history nerd with a diehard passion for the Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs.

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