Harrah’s Nebraska Casino Opens, Jackpot Hit in First Hour 

One player celebrated the historic debut of the first permanent casino in Nebraska last Friday with an $1,800 jackpot win within an hour of the doors opening. 

Caesars Entertainment let customers into Harrah’s Columbus at 10 a.m. on Friday. Hundreds of local Columbus residents queued up outside to get the first taste of a permanent Nebraska casino. 

The 17,000-square-foot casino floor features 400 slot machines and 11 table games. It also has a dedicated sports and racebook area and a brand new, one-mile racetrack, set to open for horse racing in August. 

“We’re so proud to open the doors to Harrah’s Columbus, Nebraska Racing & Casino for the first time today,” said Regional President of Caesars Entertainment Todd Connelly in a press release

“Harrah’s is an iconic brand that our guests have come to know and love across the country. We’re so happy to be here with our partners and friends as we celebrate what is sure to be a bright future in Nebraska.”

Nebraska’s First Casino (And Jackpot)

The $100 million casino gambling resort and racetrack brings new life to a former agricultural park turned event center called Wishbones that closed a decade ago.

Within an hour of the venue opening, one lucky player hit a $1,876 jackpot from a $5 bet on a Power Push slot machine.

On top of the historic first gambling win of more than $1,000 in a full Nebraska casino, the slot winner also walked with commemorative Harrah’s t-shirts that were handed out to those first through the doors. 

As well as the gambling and a racetrack, plans are underway to build a 300-room Marriott Fairfield Inn hotel across the road, which will be connected to the casino by a pedestrian walkway. 

Regulations for casinos in Nebraska were signed in 2022. As part of those rules, operators have to work with local horse racing operators and build a racing track as part of any casino project. In this case, Las Vegas-based Caesars worked with Columbus Exposition Racing on the casino and racetrack. 

Caesars Entertainment previously used Columbus’ former racetrack Ag Park to host a temporary casino venue just across town. That has now closed. 

Incoming Competition 

It may be the first full casino in Nebraska, but Harrah’s was not the first to open its temporary venue. And several others have plans to open in the near future. 

Five casinos are currently in various stages of development in the Cornhusker State. 

The local Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska are the closest to opening. Their WarHorse Gaming company has operated two temporary casinos in Lincoln and Omaha since 2022. 

It is also building permanent facilities in both locations, one of which is expected to cost $300 million. Elite Casino Resorts is also building a permanent casino at Fonner’s Park called Grand Island Casino.

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