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$100 million casino resort planned for Grand Island
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$100 million casino resort planned for Grand Island

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An Iowa-based casino operator has plans for a $100 million casino resort at Grand Island's Fonner Park.

Local officials Friday announced they have chosen Elite Casino Resorts to develop the casino complex at the horse racing track.

Elite plans a casino with 650 slot machines and 20 table games, as well as a VIP lounge, sportsbook and show lounge. It also will construct a 116-room boutique hotel with indoor and outdoor pools and a spa and salon.

The casino resort will be integrated into the existing Fonner Park complex, home of the Nebraska State Fair, and also will include several restaurants.

Officials from Elite, which operates casinos in Iowa City, Davenport and Larchwood, Iowa, said they plan to hire nearly 400 people for the operation.

Lincoln casino developers say they 'will be good neighbors'

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Of the $100 million investment, $45 million will be spent on new construction and about $3.5 million will be spent on upgrades to the existing Fonner Park. Officials did not give a timeline for construction or when the casino will open.

“I had an image in my mind, both architecturally, operationally and a mindset of what I thought would be a good fit for Fonner Park and Grand Island. Elite Casino Resorts quickly rose to the top among our impressive list of candidates,” said Chris Kotulak, Fonner Park CEO.

The Fonner Park casino is the third to be announced publicly since Nebraskans voted last year to allow casino gambling at the state's horse racing tracks.

WarHorse Gaming, a subsidiary of the Winnebago Tribe's Ho-Chunk Inc., in January unveiled plans for a $200 million casino resort at Lincoln Race Track that will include 1,200 gaming stations, a spa, restaurant, bars and conference and event space, as well as a 196-room hotel.

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WarHorse said it hopes to have the casino completed and fully operational sometime next year.

The company also has announced plans for a $200 million Omaha casino at Horsemen's Park. WarHorse is also expected to build a casino at Atokad in South Sioux City.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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