Gaming commission approves Lincoln casino, first in Nebraska

سبتمبر 23, 2022, 4 م ·

Lance Morgan of Ho-Chunk Inc., left, Dennis Lee of Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission, center, holding casino license, and Lynne McNally of Nebraska Horsemen, right, on Friday (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media News)
Lance Morgan of Ho-Chunk Inc., left, Dennis Lee of Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission, center, holding casino license, and Lynne McNally of Nebraska Horsemen, right, on Friday (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media News)

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The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission approved the first casino license in state history Friday, paving the way for the WarHorse Casino to open in Lincoln on Saturday.

Friday’s vote was unanimous, with Commissioners Tony Fulton, Shane Greckel, Shelby Bakenhus, Janell Beveridge, Jeffrey Galyen, and Chairman Dennis Lee all voting for the license, after which the meeting room burst into applause.

After the vote, Lance Morgan, President and CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., WarHorse’s parent company, reflected on its significance.

“I realize that today is a historic moment," he said. "There’s never been a casino that Nebraska’s ever had. And so we’re really proud to be a part of it. We’ve worked on it for years, and to see it come to fruition it’s almost surreal. Like, I’m having trouble believing it. But I know tomorrow, we’ll open up and things’ll get going."

Nebraska voters authorized casinos at the state’s racetracks in 2020. Lynne McNally of the Nebraska Horsemen predicted they would turn horseracing around.

“It’s going to totally revitalize our industry," she said. "We’re going to come back as when Aksarben was one of the top 10 tracks in the country. We could not be more excited." She said the Lincoln racetrack would expand from running one racing day per year to between 60 and 80.

Morgan said the Lincoln casino will operate in a temporary facility until a new one is completed in about 18 months. He said he expects a temporary facility to open in Omaha next year.