WarHorse Casino Lincoln to Open Temporary Gaming Space, First Casino in Nebraska

Posted on: September 22, 2022, 04:53h. 

Last updated on: March 29, 2023, 06:33h.

WarHorse Casino Lincoln expects to make history this weekend by becoming the first legal casino to open its doors in Nebraska.

WarHorse Casino Lincoln Nebraska gambling
The temporary casino space at WarHorse Lincoln Casino in Nebraska could open this Saturday, September 24. The fully finished, permanent casino won’t be ready until late 2024. (Image: York News-Times)

WarHorse Gaming is a partnership between the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA). The gaming entity was formed after Nebraska voters signed off on allowing the state’s six horse racetracks to transition into full-scale casinos. That was done through a ballot referendum presented during the November 2020 election.

WarHorse is overseeing the racino-to-casino overhaul at each of the NHBPA’s three racetracks. The Lincoln and Omaha facilities are being developed first, with the association’s South Sioux City track set for redevelopment at a later date.

WarHorse Gaming is spending more than $200 million to transform the Lincoln Race Course into WarHorse Casino Lincoln. Once completed, expected sometime in late 2024, the casino will feature about 1,300 slot machine and table game positions, plus a sportsbook.

The gaming floor will complement a 200-room hotel, convention and meeting space, multiple restaurants, and live and simulcast horse racing.

Temporary Casino Ready

Though WarHorse Lincoln won’t be ready for at least another 18 months, the casino hopes to open a temporary gaming space this weekend. Lance Morgan, president and CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and operator of WarHorse, told the Nebraska Examiner this week that the interim facility is ready to go.

The only remaining hurdle, Morgan explained, is gaining final approval from the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission. The commission is set to meet tomorrow afternoon, where it’s expected to grant WarHorse a gaming license for Lincoln.

WarHorse has renovated a former sports bar that accommodated pari-mutuel wagering activities at the Lincoln track into a temporary casino with about 500 slot and table game positions.

We have every expectation that we’ll get a license,” Morgan said of tomorrow’s gaming commission meeting.

WarHorse Lincoln’s temporary casino could open as early as 10:30 am local time on Saturday if it does. The Lincoln property would then forever be known as the first legal casino to open in Nebraska history.

But that’s not all that WarHorse has planned for this weekend. The company says it will officially rename the historic racetrack, which opened in 1947, “Legacy Downs” when its casino takes its first bet.

Omaha Construction Nearing

WarHorse Gaming plans to soon break ground on its Omaha project, which is the larger of its two initial casino undertakings. WarHorse has budgeted more than $300 million to renovate Horsemen’s Park into WarHorse Casino Omaha.

The Omaha blueprint includes 1,600 gaming positions, three restaurants and a food court, and live and simulcast wagering. No hotel is currently included.

WarHorse also plans to open a temporary casino in Omaha. That facility is set to commence operations next spring.

No details on what WarHorse might have in store for South Sioux City have yet been revealed. Morgan concluded that the company is currently “spending every penny” on the Lincoln and Omaha builds.