LINCOLN, Nebraska — According to a report that was released by the state on Monday, Nebraska’s first gambling casino has given nearly $800,000 to a state fund that provides property tax relief so far. Of this total, $597,854 was contributed during the month of October alone.
And officials with the WarHorse Casino anticipate that gaming tax revenues will steadily increase once they begin advertising and selling the temporary facility at the Lincoln Race Course, which is located on the southwestern boundary of the city of Lincoln.
According to Lynne McNally, the chief executive officer of the state’s horsemen’s group, “We’re really thrilled at the way that it’s been accepted.” “Getting started on making contributions to that property tax relief fund was something that was extremely significant to us.”
Greater expected revenue is forecast.
On Monday, Lance Morgan, president and chief executive officer of Ho-Chunk Inc., which runs the WarHorse Casino, stated that he believes gaming revenue for property tax relief will exceed initial forecasts and be somewhere near $100 million annually.
According to Morgan, there is a considerably higher potential for expansion in the city of Lincoln because it does not have a history of casino gaming like Omaha. Omaha’s neighboring city of Council Bluffs has had legalized casinos for many years, so there is already a precedent for casino gaming there.
He added that Lincoln has an enormous amount of untapped potential. “And we’ve only scratched the surface,” said the speaker.
Voters in Nebraska supported the legalization of gambling casinos in 2020, and one of the primary selling arguments for doing so was the potential for a reduction in the state’s long-griped-about property taxes.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, supporters estimated that the measure would raise $45.5 million annually for the purpose of providing relief from property taxes. A larger estimate was provided by the fiscal office of the Nebraska Legislature, which projected that the take from property tax relief would amount to $91 million by 2022-2023 if six casinos were operational.
70% of that will go toward property tax reduction
Casinos are required to pay state gaming taxes equal to 20% of their total gross gambling revenue, with 70% of this money going to the state’s Property Tax Credit Fund, which has been in existence for a very long time. This fund allows for a reduction in the overall amount of municipal property tax bills.
Another twenty-five percent of the revenue generated by gaming is distributed in an equal manner between the county and city that are hosting a casino.
Since the WarHorse Casino opened on September 24, both Lancaster County and the City of Lincoln have earned around $143,000 in gaming revenue, according to the report on the state’s gaming industry that was published on Monday by the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission.
The levy on gambling has remained unchanged.
The executive director of the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission, Tom Sage, stated that he did not have any expectations regarding the amount of revenue that the new casino will provide. However, according to what he indicated, the total amount of gaming taxes paid up to this point have remained stable at a rate of between $150,000 and $200,000 per week.
Sage stated that the amount of available space had a negative impact on revenue. It was only possible for Warhorse to accommodate 433 slot machines in its temporary casino, which is located inside of a former simulcast facility. In addition, there are no blackjack tables or any other table games available.
When a brand new casino complex worth $200 million is constructed in Lincoln about two years from now, there won’t be a change in that number.
It is anticipated that it will take a full year before the temporary casino at Omaha’s Horsemen’s Park racetrack, which will have 800 slot machines, will open its doors.
Sage predicted that before the end of this year, Nebraska’s upcoming casino, which will most likely be located in Grand Island’s Fonner Park, will open its doors to the public.
When WarHorse first started in Lincoln, according to both Morgan and McNally, there was little promotion done since there were worries about the facility becoming overcrowded.
There is currently no money for purses.
A further argument in favor of the legalization of casino gambling is that increased purses for thoroughbred horse races might be funded by the income generated by casinos. McNally explained that this was due to the fact that the track at the Lincoln Race Course required some pricey improvements.
Among these are the acquisition of an additional 155 acres of land, the construction of extra stables for horses, and the conclusion of a $2.5 million surface renovation project at the racecourse. According to McNally, the ground beneath the track was littered with big stones.
She stated that the board of directors of the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association would, in the end, decide how much money will be directed to boost purses. The purpose of doing so is to recruit more horses by more lavishly rewarding trainers and owners.
The report that was released on Monday is the first to include gaming tax income for a whole calendar month.
It showed that the total revenue from the gaming tax for the month of October was $854,077.44, with 70% of that amount, or $597,854, going into the Nebraska Property Tax Relief Fund. The Compulsive Gaming Assistance Fund and the Nebraska General Fund each received 2.5% of the total, or $21,352, respectively.
According to Sage, the study offers a “more full picture” of gaming tax collection, which will assist us in estimating future tax revenues.