Yesterday, the Omaha City Council gave the green light to a plan that would guarantee fresh tax incentives worth $17.5 million for the development of a casino that is set to be situated on the Horsemen’s Park property.
The Warhorse Gaming Omaha casino project, which is estimated at $220 million, is set to become one of the first casinos across the state officially allowed by Nebraska voters, who decided to approve gambling expansion across the state at sites that host thoroughbred horse races.
Warhorse Gaming Omaha operates as a subsidiary of Ho-Chunk Inc, which is the development unit of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
Previously, the casino developers argued that the project would not be reasonable without so-called tax increment financing (TIF), describing the $220 million as “at-risk” money.
On the other hand, opponents of the casino have shared they were not sure that a casino venue, which is expected to generate millions of dollars, needed a tax break. The former Mayor of Omaha, Hal Daub, opposed the TIF plan, saying that he did not believe local taxpayers should be forced to provide funding to the project when the casino sponsors had already paid millions to take advantage of the opportunity after the necessary State Constitution’s amendments were brought. Mr. Daub also challenged the fact that elements of the TIF application were not available to the public, even though the TIF committee was given the chance to review the entire casino application.
Warhorse Gaming Omaha’s Casino Set to Be Completed in the Fall of 2022
Tax increment financing provides developers with the chance to cover expenses in areas that have been considered damaged by borrowing against the increased property tax revenue in the future. The loan must be paid back over a few years, while the developer is required to pay a lower property tax rate that is partially based on the undeveloped property’s value.
So far, developers from Warhorse Gaming Omaha have agreed to pay about $6 million in order to widen Q Street, where the casino is set to be hosted. Part of the money is set to be used to make storm sewer improvements.
One of the Omaha City Council members – Aimee Melton – has explained that she gave her support to the TIF because the developers of the gambling venues were asking for the tax break to support the improvements that would be beneficial for the public, and not the casino itself.
It was only the developers who testified in favor of the casino project at the last Omaha City Council meeting that took place on July 20th.
Once completed, the casino complex is set to feature live and simulcast horse racing services, along with table games, 1,200 gaming machines, as well as live entertainment and a sports bar. The construction of the facility is expected to be brought to an end by the fall of 2022. The casino is also expected to create around 500 full- and part-time jobs.