Tribal Casinos Unveil New Properties in Nebraska and Oklahoma

The pandemic closure of the casino industry may start to seem like a long way off and some gaming corporations are expanding their footprints with new properties. That’s the case now with the recent announcements of some new properties in Nebraska and Oklahoma.

New casino construction offers a glimpse into the strength the industry has shown since the pandemic. The commercial gaming industry saw an annual record of $60.4 billion in revenue in 2022, according to the American Gaming Association. This was the first $60 billion year for the commercial gaming sector, topping the previous record of $53 billion in 2021.

The tribal gaming industry also continues to post big numbers. Tribal operations produced a record $39 billion in 2021, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission. The new properties show that tribal gaming continues to grow and expand.

Online casinos are not legal in either state, and there is little interest in legalizing online gaming. For now, interested parties have to travel to other states to play on MI online casinos and NJ online casinos.

WarHorse Casino Debuts in Nebraska

The Cornhusker State welcomes a new WarHorse Gaming casino in Omaha at Horsemen’s Park in June or July of 2024. The company is a division of Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. The group is partnering with the track for the new gaming facility.

Officials recently broke ground on the new casino, which will include more than 1200 slots machines, 20 table games, a sportsbook, and live and simulcast horse racing. The completed venue will also include a variety of dining options including a sports bar and cafe.

“It’s very exciting to have reached this point, but even more exciting knowing what the future holds for Omaha and the state,” said Lance Morgan, Ho-Chunk CEO. “Nebraskans made their thoughts clear in the 2020 election – we want to keep our money in our state. Today is a significant milestone in making that happen.”

WarHorse is also in the process of bringing a gaming facility to Lincoln. The company unveiled a temporary facility with 433 slot machines in September 2022. The next phase is expected to begin in July 2023, doubling the current size and adding 500 more parking spaces, 870 slot machines, up to 10 table games, and an expanded dining area.

Nebraska has several casinos with gaming facilities limited to tribal properties. Voters also allowed casinos at racetracks beginning in 2020. Most casinos are located in the eastern half of the state where neighboring Iowa also hosts several casinos on the border, attracting gamblers from the Omaha area.

The state’s casinos produced more than $2.8 million in tax revenue in 2022, according to the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission. The funds are used for property tax relief, the state’s general fund, the Compulsive Gaming Assistance Fund, and subsidizing the horse racing industry.

Oklahoma Also Sees New Casino on Texas border

The Sooner State is home to numerous tribal casinos and now has one more. Many of these properties look to bring in gamblers from neighboring states, especially the more heavily populated areas of Texas.

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby hopes the new West Bay Casino and Resort is another nice addition to the tribe’s bevy of gaming facilities. The property is located right on Lake Texoma, which borders Texas and Oklahoma. The property is about a 90-minute drive north of Dallas.

The Chickisaws already own the popular RiverWind in Norman and the WinStar in Thackerville, also just north of Dallas. The West Bay includes slots, table games, a hotel, restaurant, pool, and 10 lakeside cabins. Tribal officials believe the lakeside location offers visitors much more than just a typical casino stay.

“I think people are really gonna enjoy the accommodations,” Anoatubby told KXII-TV. “They can bring their families. It’s large enough for several people.”

The area also features a new waterfront development and Anoatubby believes the casino fits right in with the area’s surroundings. He believes the property will be a boon to the area’s economy. Chickasaw developments benefit the tribe through social programs, employment, and educational goals.

“Anytime we get into business, our plan is obviously to create revenue but that revenue then goes into programs which we have for our people,” Anoatubby said. “It’s not just about putting one business in and stopping at that.”

Oklahoma remains a hotbed for tribal gaming. The Oklahoma Compliance Unit’s 2022 annual gaming report offers a look at how important the industry is to the state. The government collected $191.5 million in tribal gaming exclusivity fees in 2022 under state-tribal gaming compacts, an 18% increase from 2021. The previous year had already seen a 32% increase from 2020 to $163 million.

In 2022, tribes also paid $166.5 million in electronic games fees, an increase of 16% ($22.9 million) from 2021. Table games fees totaled $2 million, a 30% increase ($5.7 million) from 2021.


Sean Chaffin is a longtime freelance writer, editor, and former high school journalism teacher.