WarHorse Casino Omaha Developer Issued Gaming License in Nebraska

Posted on: November 10, 2022, 01:43h. 

Last updated on: November 10, 2022, 02:06h.

WarHorse Casino Omaha at Horsemen’s Park has been granted an operator’s license. It is one of two under-construction gaming projects in Nebraska being built by the Winnebago Tribe in partnership with the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA),

Nebraska WarHorse Omaha Casino Lincoln
Patrons line up outside the temporary WarHorse Casino Lincoln on Sept. 24, 2022. WarHorse Omaha this week received its operating license from the Nebraska Racing & Gaming Commission. (Image: Lincoln Journal Star)

The Nebraska Racing & Gaming Commission yesterday voted 5-1 in favor of issuing Warhorse Gaming Omaha, LLC — the parent entity behind the casino — an operating license. The concession’s issuance, said WarHorse Gaming, the tribe and horsemen’s joint entity, was critical in obtaining the necessary funding to continue construction.

Ho-Chunk, Inc., the commercial economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe, is investing $700 million to build commercial casinos at three NHBPA racetrack facilities. Ho-Chunk is the primary funder of WarHorse Gaming.

Along with transforming Horsemen’s Park into WarHorse Casino Omaha, Ho-Chunk is redeveloping the Lincoln Race Course into WarHorse Casino Lincoln. The tribe plans to later redevelop the shuttered Atokad Downs in South Sioux City.    

Ground Broken

WarHorse commenced construction on its Lincoln and Omaha casinos in July. The redevelopments are expected to save horse racing in Nebraska, while simultaneously generating new tax revenue streams.

Nebraskans authorized the racetrack casinos through a 2020 ballot referendum. The amended Nebraska Constitution now permits commercial casino gambling with slot machines, table games, and sports betting at licensed horse racing facilities.

The new tax money created by Nebraska’s forthcoming gaming industry will be set aside for property tax relief.

It’s very exciting to have reached this point, but even more exciting knowing what the future holds for Omaha and the state,” said Lance Morgan, president and CEO of Ho-Chunk, Inc. “Nebraskans made their thoughts clear in the 2020 election. We want to keep our money in our state.”

Nebraska Racing & Gaming Commissioner Jeffrey Galyen was the lone dissenting vote against awarding WarHorse Omaha an operator’s license. Gaylen criticized the commission for seemingly rushing the company’s application.

Galyen, an attorney specializing in real estate and commercial realty law, questioned if the commission even possessed the authority to issue the license. That’s before reviewing WarHorse’s final redevelopment plans of the racetrack complex.

His fellow commissioners felt otherwise and moved forward with a vote. Commission Chair Dennis Lee concluded that further delay would be a dereliction of the commission’s duties.

WarHorse Omaha Details

Ho-Chunk, Inc., which owns and operates the WinnaVegas Casino Resort in neighboring Iowa, hopes to better strengthen its tribe’s economic sovereignty with three commercial casinos in its home state.

WarHorse Omaha is expected to take 18 months to construct, with a target goal of completion set for August 2023. The Omaha casino is to feature approximately 1,200 slot machines, 20 table games, and a sportsbook. The casino will be complemented by a variety of dining options.

WarHorse Omaha is being built near 63rd and Q streets. The project site is located along a city public bus line. Company officials hope that will make working at the future casino appealing to more people.

We want to be able to hire everybody who wants to work,” NHBPA CEO Lynne McNally told the Omaha World-Herald. “We have the means to help you get there.”

WarHorse Lincoln is the larger of the two casino developments. The Lincoln casino is to feature 1,100 slots, 100 table games, and a sportsbook. The resort will come with a 200-room hotel.

WarHorse Lincoln opened a temporary casino with about 430 slot machines and simulcast racing in September.