The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission approved the fee structure for gaming licenses paving the way for prospective casino operators to apply for licenses.
Voters approved casino gaming in a ballot initiative 19 months ago
The approval is the final step in the legislative process to launch casino gaming and comes a full 19 months after the state’s electorate coted to allow casino gaming at Nebraska horse racing tracks.
Most of the fees were set out in the ballot initiatives that were approved by voters. This included fees for casino operator licenses that are set at $5 million for a five-year duration plus an initial $1 million application fee and a further $1 million paid annually for the license term.
Tom Sage, executive director of the Racing and Gaming Commission has stated that he expects applications to take 30-60 days to process before going to the Racing and Gaming Commission for approval. Due to the expected delay the commission has agreed to issue provisional licenses for the duration of the application process. These will last for 90 days but will not allow an operator to start gaming but will allow them to secure financing and order and install equipment.
Lincoln Race Course is planning a $220 million project that will include over 1,200 gaming stations and a 196-room hotel. This would take around 18-24 months to build while a temporary facility will be opened once the track’s license is approved.
WarHorse is planning a similar project at Horsemen’s Park in Omaha. Construction will begin sometime this summer. The company hopes to open a temporary facility within ten months that will house around 800 slot machines.
Fonner Park in Grand Island is also is planning to open a temporary casino with 200 slot machines.
The state’s other tracks, in Columbus and Hastings, have also intimated that they will apply for casino licenses but have yet to release plans for their projects.