Grand Island Nebraska’s anniversary


he Grand Island Casino and Resort has been in its temporary location for a full calendar year, and is celebrating the anniversary in the city of Grand Island, Nebraska. Grand Island, population just over 50,000, is located 143 miles west of Omaha, towards the center of the state of Nebraska.

The casino has expanded its latest lineup to include live table games and live sports betting within the past 12 months. It is anticipated that Current Blackjack News will soon include a report on the blackjack offerings.

Among sports bettors, NCAA Football has been the most talked about topic more than any other, and table games have been drawing in new players. Vince Fiala, general manager, sums up the first year in one word: excellent.

“Revenue has been good, people here have been very good to deal with, we have excellent employees,” Fiala said. “It has just been a good fit for us and for the community.”

Staff members noticed that Fridays through Sundays are the busiest days, and that traffic starts to grow once holidays are approaching. According to Fiala, some months draw greater numbers of visitors than others. He commented that February through April and the beginning of May was good because horse racing is a strong draw. After that, he said that things slacked down a little bit for the summer sports and events before picking back up in the fall.

October, November, and December, whose numbers have not been analyzed yet, should be good months, Fiala observed.

The casino is anticipating more patrons because of the Christmas holidays. Even though the temporary facility was successful, they still had to overcome the challenges, according to Fiala, of “getting employees and getting employees trained. Gaming is new to the area so we don’t draw from a lot of experienced people but we bring in some people we have brought people in from other properties and we sent some of our employees to other properties. Getting people familiar with the whole customer service aspect of gaming and how things work and the regulations.”

Fonner Park, a partner of the Grand Island Casino and Resort, gains from their success. Grand Island residents voted in favor of a casino being built there back in November 2020, and CEO Chris Kotulak says the partnership is going great now that it has been formed. The horses and jockeys in Nebraska are the ones who benefit most from the relationship. Kotulak wants the state's six licensed racetracks to regain their previous level of prominence.

According to Kotulak, “Our obligation is to the horses and horsemen in Nebraska for an actual thoroughbred industry that once was. We are a shadow of our former self. We are doing our role and we are hoping the other racetracks and horsemen groups will do the same thing. They need time to get their traction going.”

All the executives agreed that working in a shared workspace and sometimes having to navigate bureaucracy to get permission to take action when necessary can often provide the most difficult obstacles to efficient operations.


“Grand Island Casino and Resort reflects on first year of operation” , Brandon Mueting,, December 21, 2023.


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