Ho-Chunk, the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe, announced the launch of its new business WarHorse Gaming LLC tasked to manage the casino expansion at the company’s three horse racing tracks in Nebraska.
Nebraska Approved Casinos at Race Tracks
Residents in the state voted in favor of the proposed gaming expansion on the referendum which took place alongside the Presidential Elections in November and set in motion Ho-Chunk’s plans to spend $300 million to develop casinos at the race tracks in Omaha, Lincoln, and South Sioux City.
Even before the referendum, Ho-Chunk partnered with the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA), to guarantee enough signatures for the ballot measure, and now WarHorse Gaming is working in collaboration with the association to develop the casino plans.
A statement released by Ho-Chunk revealed both organizations are at an early stage of the planning process, projecting to have some form of expanded gaming in the second half of 2021 and full-blown casino operations in 2022. The company noted further information related to its timetable will be released at a later date.
In Partnership with NHBPA
While WarHorse Gaming will bear the responsibility for gaming operations at Horsemen’s Park, Lincoln Racecourse and Atokad, the NHBPA will continue to manage the horse racing element of the business.
“We are thrilled to partner with a world-class organization like Ho-Chunk, Inc. It’s been a very long process getting to this point, with a lot more yet to do, but we’re very much looking forward to what this will do for Nebraska.”Lynne McNally, Executive Vice President, NHBPA
The WarHorse Gaming business will be led by Brian Chamberlain who will take the role of the Executive Director, while Blue Earth Marketing, a subsidiary of Ho-Chunk, will act as an agency of record for the casinos.
“This is an exciting time for Nebraskans. Our team is working tirelessly to bring first-class gaming and entertainment to the state. Though there is still a great deal of work to be done, we’re excited for the chance to bring a new industry to the state, and with it, an entirely new source of tax revenue and career opportunities.”Brian Chamberlain, Executive Director, WarHorse Gaming
Ho-Chunk expects a casino development at Atokad race track in South Sioux City to take 9 months, but the effect of the gambling expansion would be significant, allowing the operator to acquire 25% to 30% of the gaming market share in Siouxland where Ho-Chunk has another property, WinnaVegas Casino Resort near Sloan in Iowa.
Vegas-style casino operations at the other two racetracks can commence within 6 months, Ho-Chunk predicted, as Horsemen’s Park and Lincoln Racecourse already have facilities in place.
Overall, casino presence at the three race tracks will help them expand their horse racing activities by adding new live racing dates to their respective calendars.