Nebraska casino operator begins business looking to keep customers from Iowa

LINCOLN — Iowa casinos on the western side of the state now facing some competition from Nebraska, as the Warhorse Casino in Lincoln is now operating after approval from state regulators.

Nebraska’s first casino is run by Ho-Chunk Incorporated, the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. CEO Lance Morgan says they are going to stop some of the money moving out of Nebraska into Iowa.

“You know Iowa always been in the lucky position that Nebraska has never…gone forward with gaming and has benefited I think about 10 billion dollars has gone from Omaha area to Council Bluffs. And so, we’re gonna get a share of that back,” Morgan says.

They started with slot machines in a building in Lincoln and will build that up and also plan to build a casino in Omaha and eventually South Sioux City. Morgan says he has no qualms about challenging Iowa for the gamblers — and knows it will be a competition.

“I think Iowa understands that and that’s just the dynamic that is going to happen and they’ve taken their share from us and that’s just business and so you know we took our medicine and now, we’ve grown to the point where we’re gonna give it back a little bit,” Morgan says. “And so, do I have sympathy for Iowa? Not really.”

He says they are starting with the Lincoln and Omaha facilities because they are in an area with one-point-three million people. “With Omaha Lincoln, we basically have existing buildings we’re going to open the temporary facility and build the primary facility around them and sort of integrated into,” he says. “In Lincoln, it’s such a small facility it’s easy to get open. In Omaha, it’s a much much larger facility.”

The temporary Warhorse Casino in Lincoln began operating a week ago Saturday.