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Yaspa Secures UK Government Grant for Safer Gambling Platform

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Nebraska’s first full-fledged, newly built and state-sanctioned gambling casino is slated to open in Columbus next month, marking a milestone in the state’s rollout of casino gambling.

The Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission last Friday approved a target opening date of May 13 for Harrah’s Columbus.

“This is a big deal,” commission Chairman Dennis Lee said.

The state’s three other casinos are open, but in temporary facilities. According to construction schedules, all should be open by early next year.

“We’re definitely excited to open the first permanent casino in the state,” said Don Ostert, Harrah’s Columbus general manager.

The 17,000-square-foot casino floor will feature 400 slot machines and 11 live table games, including roulette and craps, Ostert said. It will feature a Brew Brothers restaurant and will offer Caesar’s sportsbook and racebook, Ostert said.

For racing fans, the complex will feature the state’s only 1-mile horse track, though racing isn’t scheduled to begin until August 16. By June, officials hope to have some horses out on the track to test the new surface.

Ostert said officials hope to draw customers from Norfolk and Grand Island, but also from Omaha and Lincoln.

Columbus Mayor James Bulkley said that, from the city’s standpoint, “we are very excited to see it get started and become part of the community.”

The developers incorporated some Columbus history into the casino, he said.

“The location where it is used to be called Wishbones, and it was a venue for years for entertainment, and so people recognize that name, and they have kept that name for the sports bar,” he said.

He expects the casino will draw from Omaha. Although driving to Columbus from downtown Omaha might take close to an hour and a half, the drive from west Omaha is more like an hour, he said.

“I can hit Elkhorn in a short hour today, which is now western Omaha,” he said.

In a few months, Omahans won’t have to leave town to visit a brand-new casino.

At Horsemen’s Park in Omaha, Warhorse Gaming officials are aiming to open their new casino in early August. It will open with 900 gaming positions, including table games and a Sweetwater Cafe.