According to a Thursday report from the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper, the suit was brought by Big Red Keno in June after the firm had been denied first shot at bringing a casino to the Lancaster County venue. The plaintiff was purportedly angered that the property’s owner, the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, had awarded this right to WarHorse Gaming LLC, which is an enterprise of the federally-recognized Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
The action from Big Red Keno was reportedly contending that this state of affairs had violated the keno contract it inked with Omaha Exposition and Racing Incorporated, which is responsible for operations at the historic Lincoln facility. This deal purportedly gave the plaintiff first dibs up to 2033 on developing a Lincoln Race Course casino should the legislative landscape ever allow.
The newspaper reported that this eventuality happened in November of 2020 when Nebraska voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum to bring casino gaming to the state’s horseracing tracks. However, the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association purportedly went on to overlook Big Red Keno and give WarHorse Gaming LLC the right to build and run the planned $220 million Lincoln Race Course casino.
The Lincoln Journal Star reported that the WarHorse Casino at Lincoln Race Course venue is expected to open in about two years’ time complete with approximately 1,200 gaming machines, an events space, numerous restaurants and a 196-room hotel. In the interim and WarHorse Gaming LLC is hoping to be given permission to premiere a temporary casino on the same site offering a selection of some 300 slots.
In dismissing the lawsuit from Big Red Keno and Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte reportedly ruled that the plaintiff’s arrangement with Omaha Exposition and Racing Incorporated was not valid as this latter enterprise had been sub-leasing its property from the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. The adjudicator moreover purportedly declared that this meant that the operator had not had a ‘valid right to offer expanded gambling activities’ to any other party.
Nevertheless, Otte did reportedly rule that Big Red Keno has a claim against Omaha Exposition and Racing Incorporated for damages associated with the early termination of its Lincoln Race Course lease. The judge purportedly then went on to grant the Omaha-headquartered plaintiff 30 days in which to file such a petition via an amended lawsuit.