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Elite Casino Resorts is building a $100 million venue in Grand Island.
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Elite Casino Resorts is building a $100 million venue in Grand Island.

Iowa-based gambling operator Elite Casino Resorts has recently announced that they are planning the development of a $100 million luxury resort at the Fonner Park in Grand Island.

The best part?

Elite announced that the casino would be built at the horse racing track, so we expect the new resort to be enormous and feature some of the best gambling attractions in the world.

So, if you’re curious to learn more about the next luxury gambling venue in Nebraska, you will love this article.

Let’s discover the plans for the Grand Island casino resort.

What will the new casino resort offer?

According to official news from Elite, the casino will feature 20 table games and 650 slot machine terminals. Additionally, they want to include a sports betting venue, an area dedicated to live shows and a VIP lounge for high rollers.

The new resort will also include a boutique-style hotel with 116 suites, outdoor and indoor swimming pools and a spa with a salon. By adding these features, Elite will ensure that even non-gamblers will have a great time during their stay at the resort.

Since the casino will be built on the existing complex at Fonner Park (the home of Nebraska State Fair), we expect it to include some top-quality restaurants where you can enjoy a premium dinner after a profitable gaming session.

Elite Gambling Resorts understands that they’re privileged to have a gambling license, so they will try their best to maintain it by operating with integrity. Their casino will be integrated with the Fonner Park race track and offer a wide range of amenities that should attract a wave of tourists.

According to Elite officials, their “secret sauce” is becoming the community’s partner. Since the company started as a small family business, they plan to treat everyone, from employees to clients, as family members.

Elite Casino Resorts company overview

Elite Casino Resorts is a gambling company that currently operates three luxury gambling resorts in Iowa. Their ELITE Sportsbook is the only legal sports betting venue in the state of Iowa. The company started in the 1960s as a family business, but it became a huge corporation that generated revenue of over $3.36 million last year. 

Right now, Elite owns the following casinos:

  • Riverside Casino and Golf Resort & ELITE Sportsbook (located in Riverside, Iowa)
  • Rhythm City Casino Resort & ELITE Sportsbook (located in Davenport, Iowa)
  • Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort (located in Larchwood, Iowa)

In addition to these deluxe casino resorts, the operator also has a sportsbook in Colorado, and they’ve secured two new casino deals – Walker’s Bluff Casino (Illinois) and Grand Island Casino Resort (Nebraska).

Since ELITE is the only company awarded an Iowa gambling license in 2005 (out of 10 candidates), it is no wonder that the Nebraska government agreed to let them build the new casino in Grand Island.

How much will the casino cost?

As we’ve already mentioned, the project has an estimated cost of $100 million.

 Elite and Fonner Park announced that they need around 300 workers to build the resort in record time. Both companies are well-known for paying high wages and offering a wide range of benefits to their employees.

The officials expect to find the necessary workforce in time, despite the low unemployment rate in central Nebraska.

Only $45 million out of the entire budget will be used to construct the new building. Also, the project assigned $3-5 million for upgrading Fonner Park, which is excellent considering that it’s one of Grand Island’s main touristic attractions. 

While the officials haven’t released a timeline for the completion of the casino construction, Chris Kotulak, CEO of Fonner Park, declared:

“I had a vision in my mind, both architecturally, operationally and a mindset of what I considered a good fit for Fonner Park and Grand Island. Elite Casino Resorts quickly made it to the top of our list of impressive candidates.”

That’s great news for the Nebraskans, coming right after they voted to allow gambling at the horse racing tracks.

The state of gambling regulations in Nebraska

While the project is ready for takeoff, Elite Gambling Resorts is still waiting for directions from the local gambling legislation.

See Also

The idea is that Elite takes pride in developing fully legal gambling venues. Thus, they want to make sure that they get everything right and don’t break any laws with the development of this new casino in Grand Island.

In case you’re not up-to-date with the most recent legislation changes in Nebraska, please note that in November 2020, the locals voted to allow the exclusive development of casino resorts near racetracks. (a.k.a. racinos)

Here are the candidates for “racinos” that will join Fonner Park:

  • Lincoln Race Course (Lincoln)
  • Fairplay Park (Hastings)
  • Atokad Park (South Sioux City)
  • Platte Country Ag Park (Columbus)
  • Horsemen’s Park (Omaha)

Once the changes come into effect, the communities can start gambling projects and build new racetracks.

This decision is beneficial for the state and the local entrepreneurs who can now legally build resorts and transform Nebraska into one of the world’s leading premium casino resorts. Still, it will take a while until the gambling projects take off, considering that operators need a racetrack license before they can start building.

Fun fact: Since 1956, the state of Nebraska didn’t issue any racetrack licenses. The authorities are concerned because there’s been a wave of applications since the new gambling law was passed. They worry that newcomers will steal traffic from the well-established racetracks.

Final thoughts

The new gambling regulations are quickly rolling out in the U.S., and more states want to join the action.

Since Nebraska didn’t allow gambling until now, it will be interesting to see how the Grand Island project will evolve. 

Elite Gambling Resorts officials estimate that it will take them around 18 months to complete the construction. However, since the new law just passed the public’s vote, it may take a little longer until it comes into effect.

Still, we expect Elite’s “racino” to be a great addition to Nebraska’s tourism. Even though casinos don’t have an excellent reputation (thanks to problem gamblers), people still voted for the legalization of gambling. This vote signifies that the community needs a luxury entertainment destination.

Hopefully, by 2023 the casino will open its door to the public, and we’ll see if Elite stands up to its promise.



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