Iowa: Harrah’s Casino in Council Bluffs undergoes renovations in the face of Omaha’s arrival to the market

While Omaha prepares to enter the world of casino gambling, Harrah’s Casino in Council Bluffs is currently undergoing indoor renovations, including a Guy Fieri restaurant, the expansion of the gaming floor and hotel remodeling. 

It also involves the creation of a one-stop entertainment package which includes the Stir Cove in their summer concert series. Thomas Roberts, senior vice president of Harrah’s and Horseshoe Casinos, said: “If you’re coming to a concert, have a great meal, you want to gamble after, you can do it all right there.”

Both Harrah’s and Horseshoe are owned by Caesars Entertainment, which plan to pump $22 million into the expansion and enhancements at Harrah’s, as reported by 6 News. 

“Any time there’s competition that comes in the market, you always want to make sure you’re investing in your property to make sure you hold your market share,” Roberts reflected on the construction of the Omaha casino. “There’s nothing we can do about what they’re doing in Nebraska. We just have to concentrate on what we do really well.”

When Nebraska legalized gambling, one of the future casino sites gave them a call. “We’re actually going to open a casino in Columbus, Nebraska, so we can make sure we bridge that gap,” the VP added. “When you start looking out further west, we can still maintain our client base that’s a little further out.”

Robert says with the opening of the casino in Lincoln, Harrah’s has already seen a mid-week drop-off. They expect casinos opening in Nebraska will create a challenge: “Anytime there’s a market open, Caesars wants to have a footprint in that market. Once again, it’s all about our database and reward system that goes across the country.”

“We have players that play in Council Bluffs right now that live out in Columbus,” he also pointed out. 

Harrah’s officials expect the Guy Fieri restaurant to open this spring or early summer. Work on the gaming floor expansion will begin after that.Back in November, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission approvedgaming operator license for the future WarHorse Gaming casino, racing and entertainment complex located at Horsemen’s Park in Omaha, which is expected to open in 2024.

Ho-Chunk CEO Lance Morgan and Nebraska Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association CEO Lynne McNally requested the license to be approved to secure $700 million in financing and keep on track with the complex’s renovation and expansion, which began in July this year. 

The financing will pay for the WarHorse complexes in Omaha and Lincoln as well as a five-story parking garage and more than 1,400 gaming positions, according to McNally.