Caesars Building New Harrah’s Casino, Record-Breaking Racetrack in Nebraska

Casino Games


  • The new casino will have a mile-long horse race track
  • Until the casino opens, gamblers can visit a temporary location
  • More casinos in nearby cities and by rival developers are also coming imminently

Caesars Entertainment is expanding into the Nebraska market with the launch of Harrah’s Columbus, NE Racing & Casino in 2024.

The new legal casino came into fruition through a deal between Caesars and Columbus Exposition and Racing and will allow Caesars to become the new host of Nebraska's longest thoroughbred racetrack.

While customers will have to wait until the new year to experience all that Harrah’s has to offer, the worldwide gaming giant is breaking the monotony with a temporary casino at AG Park in Columbus. That facility is expected to open this spring and will have 200+ slot machines and horse racing simulcasts.

A changing landscape

Nebraska has been steadily growing into the gambling scene over the past couple of years. Voters first approved gambling at licensed horse tracks in 2020; then, in May 2021, Gov. Pete Ricketts approved the state’s legal sports betting market; in October 2022, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission voted unanimously to approve rules for betting on sports.

Adding a new mega-casino is just the next step in the state’s evolution as a gambling hub. The property will contain a 28,000-square-foot gambling floor outfitted with a sportsbook, where gamblers can bet on everything except for in-state college teams playing games inside state lines or college player props.

On top of that, customers will be able to access over 500 slot machines and 14 table games, giving them a rich balance of entertainment options. That’s on top of the record-setting horse racing track that is expected to be a featured attraction of the venue.

Caesars’ senior vice president of racing, Joe Morris, said the “all-new, one-mile racetrack for the community to enjoy” will buoy the local support for horse racing. 

Visitors who need refreshments can check out the “Wishbones” bar, named after a shuttered but beloved entertainment district in the city of Columbus, and the award-winning restaurant “The Brew Brothers.” 

A Marriott Fairfield Inn and TownePlace Suites will also be constructed next to the casino to ensure that gamblers making the journey to Harrah’s will have overnight accommodations.

Construction has a target date of completion in the first half of 2024. That would give just enough time for Harrah’s to get established for the college football season, an ever-popular time in the Cornhusker State, although locals could not support local schools playing in-state.

Competition in Nebraska

Todd Connelly, regional president of Caesars, said during a recent event at Elks Country Club that the erection of Harrah’s on Columbus will be a major milestone for the company while sharing renderings of the finished product. Harrah’s also donated $5,000 to the Columbus Fieldhouse, a nearby fitness, wellness, and rehabilitation center.

"We’re pleased to bring a brand-new destination to the great state of Nebraska," said Connelly. "This is a huge milestone for the company, and we’ve been working hard to bring it to life." 

Gamblers in the area might have to wait for next year to access the finished product, but the temporary casino will still count as a Caesars rewards destination for loyal customers. That will allow them to redeem an array of prizes and also accumulate points by staying and utilizing various Caesars attractions. 

At the same time, WarHorse Gaming is building casinos in Lincoln and Omaha to rival Caesars but also bolster the overall gambling scene. Construction in Lincoln has an estimated completion date of late 2024, or roughly 18 months.

Elite Casinos Resorts is also planning to build Grand Island Casino Resort at Fonner Park in Grand Island, NE. However, construction will not begin until the state fair’s completion in the summer. 

Based on estimates, Harrah’s will be the first of these casinos to open.

Nebraska reported $2.8 million in tax revenue from slot machines in 2022. In the first week of January, casinos in Lincoln alone produced $228,000 in taxable funds through the state’s 20% tariff on revenue.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.