The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Mike Motz 

Central Nebraska's first casino opens in Grand Island

 

December 29, 2022 | View PDF



Central Nebraska's first casino received state approval and opened Tuesday, December 27. The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission granted Grand Island Casino Resort and Fonner Park a casino operator license and approved operating hours on Wednesday, December 21.

There was a scheduled ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday at the temporary casino location. Grand Island Casino Resort is the second casino to open in Nebraska, after WarHorse Casino in Lincoln opened on September 24. The Grand Island Casino is on the grounds of Fonner Park, which held its first thoroughbred horse races nearly 70 years ago.

Via news release, Elite Casino Resorts CEO Dan Kehl said, “We are excited to partner with Fonner Park, which held its first race almost 70 years ago. It’s very fitting that our temporary casino surrounds the Racing Hall of Fame starting a new chapter in Fonner history.”

Located on the Fonner Park concourse, the temporary casino features nearly 300 slot machines, horse betting facilities and a food court area. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 3 a.m., Friday and Saturday.

Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak said, “My mission is to provide for the horses, horsemen, staff and the guests of Fonner Park. The introduction of casino revenue puts us on a path of regenerating a once thriving Thoroughbred racing industry in Nebraska.”

The temporary casino facility will operate during the construction of the full resort, which will start after the conclusion of the 2023 Nebraska State Fair. The full resort is planned to feature 650 slot machines, 20 table games plus sports book, and multiple restaurant options attached to a boutique hotel.

The facility currently employs 100 people, and is expected to expand to 300 people once the full resort is completed and opened. The facility is located off of exit 314 on I-80 in Grand Island.

 

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