WarHorse Casino Omaha Sportsbook Gets Approval for November Launch
The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission has given the green light for sports wagering at Warhorse Casino in Omaha (rendering pictured), marking a significant milestone for Nebraska retail sportsbooks.
However, eager bettors will have to wait until early November to place their bets. That’s as the casino finalizes its sportsbook operations during its ongoing $250 million expansion.
The first Nebraska sportsbook launched at WarHorse Gaming LLC’s WarHorse Lincoln Casino in July, and it has taken nearly three months for the second retail venue to get ready.
Nebraska casino venues have been on a bit of a downtrend in 2023, so it’s hoped that introduction of sports betting will provide a boost to venues. August also saw regulators allow casino table games in the state for the first time.
“We just really wanted to get open as early in football season as we could. That’s a huge chunk of sports betting. Everything else is dwarfed by the NCAA and NFL,” said Lynne McNally, CEO of the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
“Better late than never, I guess.”
The Road to Legalization
The approval came after a unanimous vote by the Commission, which has been relatively slow and strict with its sports betting approval process.
The decision is a culmination of efforts that began in 2020. That’s when Nebraska voters approved casino gambling at the state’s horse tracks. Sports betting then followed in 2021, but only for retail betting.
The Warhorse Casino, located at Horsemen’s Park, is one of the first to take advantage of this new opportunity.
Other casinos that may look at retail sportsbooks include Grand Island Casino and Caesars Entertainment’s temporary Harrah’s Nebraska. However, regulated Nebraska online sports betting remains some way off.
For the moment, WarHorse Casinos, operated by Ho-Chunk Inc., offer the only regulated option for Nebraskan sports bettors. The Omaha launch will also be a slow burn. It will be opening in November 2023, but sports bettors and horse race betting fans will share the current simulcast horse racing space until sometime next fall.
“If the current simulcast customers and our future sports betting customers can be a little patient with us, they’re going to see something really spectacular next fall. We’re shooting for September,” McNally said.
WarHorse Rides Out
The Warhorse Casino is currently undergoing a massive $220 million expansion and renovation project, which includes the addition of a hotel, event center, and other amenities. The expansion is expected to be completed by the end of 2024, transforming the casino into one of the biggest such venues in the region.
Currently, more than 100 construction workers are on the project, and dozens of new casino and sportsbook employees are expected to join full-time once the redevelopment is finished.
The sportsbook at Warhorse Casino will feature a range of betting options, including professional and college sports, with the potential for live betting during games.
The development of the Warhorse Casino has been a collaborative effort between Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, and the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
WarHorse has also partnered with growing sportsbook platform provider Kambi for the odds and technology behind both its casino sportsbooks.
Related: The best online casinos for Nebraskans, rated and reviewed