A Harrah's casino and racetrack is officially coming to Columbus.
Columbus Exposition and Racing and Caesars Entertainment Inc. announced the plans Thursday night to The Columbus Telegram.
“We are excited to welcome Harrah’s to Nebraska,” said Tom Jackson, managing partner of CER, in a statement. “When looking for a casino operator partner, Harrah’s brand recognition and established code of commitment to its employees, customers and the communities in which they operate proved an easy selection. In addition, their superior rewards program and marketing team, high-performing entertainment network and best-in-class gaming experience check all the right boxes for this partnership.”
The approximately $75 million casino development, located off of Highway 81 in Columbus, is expected to feature a new 1-mile horse racing surface, a 40,000-square-foot-casino and sportsbook with more than 400 slot machines and 20 table games, as well as a restaurant and retail space, according to officials.
"As we work to create a new entertainment destination for the Midwest, this partnership will be an important economic driver and job creator for Columbus and the surrounding communities," Jackson said. "It also further reinforces our commitment to the hardworking people involved in the Nebraska horse racing industry. We look forward to providing new gaming and entertainment experiences to our valued customers.”
The property is expected to be complete in late 2022, organizers said.
“When Nebraska voters opened up gaming at racetracks, we knew that our experience in the casino industry combined with our commitment to horse racing made Harrah’s a perfect fit,” said Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment. “We look forward to creating an all-new Harrah’s experience in Columbus and connecting it to our Caesars Rewards network across the country.”
Joe Morris, senior vice president of racing at Caesars Entertainment, also commented.
“Beyond the onset of casino gaming in Nebraska, we are thrilled with the opportunity to transform horse racing in Columbus,” Morris said. “The opportunity to build a new, first-class track at our property illustrates our commitment to the racing industry and our intent to carry on the area’s storied racing tradition.”
Live Horse Racing has been part of the Columbus community for more than 75 years. CER board members Tom Jackson, Dan Clarey, Russell Placzek, Chad Sucha and Dennis Hall have operated live racing and simulcasting at Ag Park since 2013.
Look for more on this announcement in The Telegram's weekend edition.