Construction to Commence at Fonner Park for Grand Island Casino Resort

Posted on: September 6, 2023, 12:47h. 

Last updated on: September 6, 2023, 12:47h.

Construction for the highly anticipated $100 million Grand Island Casino Resort at Fonner Park in Nebraska is set to begin next month, according to project officials.

Fonner Park casino Grand Island Nebraska
The Nebraska State Fair, hosted annually at Fonner Park, wrapped up on Labor Day. The track is now focusing its attention on its forthcoming casino resort. The $100 million project is being bankrolled by Elite Casino Resorts. (Image: Nebraska State Fair)

Following the conclusion of the Nebraska State Fair on Labor Day, Fonner Park is turning its attention to the development of the new casino resort. Fonner Park was granted a casino license after Nebraskans approved a referendum in November 2020 that allowed for the operation of slot machines, table games, and sports betting at licensed racetracks in the state.

The Grand Island Casino Resort project is a partnership between Fonner Park, owned by the Hall County Livestock Improvement Association, and Elite Casino Resorts. Elite Casino Resorts, based in Iowa, currently operates three casinos in its home state and one in Illinois.

The Grand Island Casino Resort will be constructed adjacent to the racetrack and will incorporate the existing grandstand. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid to late October, with the opening date planned for 2024.

Fonner Park is located approximately 80 miles west of Lincoln and can be reached via Interstate 80 in about 90 minutes.

Elite Casino Resorts opened a temporary casino inside the Fonner Park concourse in December of last year. The temporary gaming space features 300 slot machines and electronic table games, and has generated $16.9 million in gross gaming revenue from January to July 2023.

Fonner Park Transformation

Vince Fiala, previously the assistant general manager of Elite Casino Resorts’ Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort in Larchwood, Iowa, has been named the general manager of the upcoming Fonner Park property.

Fiala revealed in an interview with NBC affiliate KSNB that the resort’s design is being finalized. Once the design is complete, it will be submitted to the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission for formal approval before construction commences.

According to Fiala and other representatives from Elite, the Fonner Park casino will encompass approximately 37,000 square feet and will feature 650 slot machines, 20 live dealer table games, and a sportsbook. Betfred Sports is Elite’s partner for sports betting operations.

In addition to the casino, the Grand Island Casino Resort will include a 116-room hotel with rooms overlooking the racetrack. The hotel will also feature a showroom for nightly performances by musicians. Plans for a spa offering massages, salon services, a sauna, and an ice room are reportedly in the works as well.

As for dining options, Ruthie’s Steak and Seafood, a rooftop restaurant offering a contemporary yet elegant atmosphere, will be the highlight of the casino. Elite Casino Resorts owns the Ruthie’s brand and operates restaurant locations at its Iowa properties – Rhythm City Casino in Davenport, Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in Riverside, and Grand Falls.

Elite’s Expansion in Illinois

Following the successful opening of the Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort in Carterville, Illinois, Elite Casino Resorts is now fully focused on the development of Fonner Park.

Elite’s casino resort in Illinois is a collaboration with Walker’s Bluff Vineyard, a family-owned estate that offers fine dining and wedding services. The resort features a 113-room hotel, a casino with 650 slots and 14 tables, and dining options including Walker Bluff’s renowned steakhouse and Ruthie’s.

– Sports Betting Writer

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