Caesars Entertainment will build and operate a Harrah’s casino and racetrack in Nebraska, according to a news release provided by the company.
The move came Friday when Columbus Exposition and Racing (CER) announced it has selected the Las Vegas-based casino and hotel company for the $75 million project. Caesars will operate a Harrah’s casino and racetrack in Columbus, the county seat of Platte County, Nebraska.
Founded in 2013, Columbus Exposition and Racing is a locally-based not-for-profit entity dedicated to the future of horse racing in Cornhusker State.
The approximately $75 million development plan, which is projected to be located off of Highway 81 in Columbus, will include a 40,000-square-foot-casino and sportsbook, featuring a new one-mile horse racing surface.
The casino and sportsbook facility will be featuring more than 400 slot machines, 20 table games, a restaurant, and retails space. The property is expected to complete during the second half of 2022.
The exciting development comes after Nebraska Gov. Pete. Ricketts signed a bill, allowing in-person sports betting in late May.
Harrah’s, ‘A Perfect Fit’
Caesars Entertainment took to Twitter to share the exciting deal, with CEO Tom Reeg saying Harrah’s was a “perfect fit”.
Reeg said when Nebraska voters opened up gaming at racetracks, the company had anticipated that its experience in the casino industry combined with its commitment to horse racing would make Harrah’s a perfect fit. “We look forward to creating an all-new Harrah’s experience in Columbus and linking it to our Caesars Rewards network across the nation.”
Tom Jackson, the Managing Partner of CER, also shared similar excitement and welcomed Harrah’s to Nebraska. “When looking for a casino operator partner, Harrah’s brand recognition and established code of commitment to employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate proved an easy selection.
While giving other reasons for selecting Harrah’s, Jackson said the company has a superior rewards program and marketing team, as well as a high-performing entertainment network and top-in-class gaming experience check all the right boxes for the partnership.
Economic Driver for Columbus
Jackson further noted the partnership – culminating in a new entertainment destination for the Midwest – will be a significant economic driver and job creator for Columbus and the nearby communities. He said the partnership will further reinforce the not-for-profit Columbus entity’s commitment to the hardworking individuals involved in the Nebraska horse racing industry.
Meanwhile, Joe Marris, SVP of Racing at Caesars, expressed excitement for having an opportunity to transform horse racing in Columbus. “The opportunity to build a new, top-class track at our venue illustrates our commitment to the racing industry…,” Moris said.
How Have We Reached Here?
In May, the Nebraska governor signed LB 561, which creates a regulatory framework for retail sports betting and allows for casino gaming.
The voters in Cornhusker State legalized “all games of chance” in Nov. 2020, allowing the lawmakers to extend the scope of that definition to sports betting. In some states, sports betting is defined as a game of skill.
The new bill modifies the powers and duties of the State Racing Commission, besides renaming it into the State Racing and Gaming Commission. The emergency clause attached to the legislation will allow regulators to speed up the regulatory and application process. The plan is to launch sports betting by the end of this year.
LB 561 authorizes existing tribal casinos, racinos, and horse racetracks to apply for Nebraska sports betting license.