Posted on: January 21, 2024, 05:09h.
Last updated on: January 21, 2024, 05:09h.
The list of operators eager to get themselves a future piece of Nebraska’s casino market is increasing.
On Friday, representatives of a new hopeful, KRG Investment Group, briefed the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission (NRGC) on its proposal for a new horse-racing facility with accompanying hotel casino in the city of Fremont in the southeast of the state.
A spokesperson for KRG told The Lincoln Journal Star that the company was in the “early stages of due diligence discussions” with city officials, who seem to be receptive to the idea. Officials have identified four potential sites for the project, the spokesperson said.
Casinos Tied to Horse Racing
Nebraska voters legalized casino gaming at the 2020 ballot when they agreed to amend the state constitution to allow commercial casinos at the state’s six licensed racetracks.
The new law also opened the door to new casino developments, but any operator who wants to enter the potentially lucrative casino market must also offer live horse racing, a potentially less lucrative prospect. That means they will need to build or acquire a racetrack and gain a racing license from the state.
The licensed racetracks that are already eligible to build casinos are Legacy Downs in Lincoln, Fonner Park in Grand Island, Horsemen’s Park in Omaha, Atokad in South Sioux City, FairPlay Park in Hastings, and Columbus Exposition and Racing in Columbus. Four of these gaming facilities have opened temporary venues while the main casinos are under construction.
The Fremont project is the seventh proposal for a brand-new racing and gaming facility in the state. Others are earmarked for Bellevue, Norfolk, York, North Platte, Gering, and Kimball.
But an independent report submitted to the state racing and gaming commission earlier this month could put the brakes on these new projects, halting casino expansion in the state.
The market study concluded there was “more than sufficient capacity with the state’s existing six racing licenses to allow for a tripling or quadrupling of racing in Nebraska.”
“The data do not support the addition of more racing licenses,” it added.
The report was commissioned by the NRGC at the behest of state lawmakers, who want the agency to analyze the state’s horse racing and casino markets and their socioeconomic impact every five years.
The NRGC is required, by law, to consider the possible socioeconomic impact of new license applications and must reject those that could be detrimental to the health of the existing market.
The agency was scheduled to discuss the report at its Friday meeting.