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City council approves millions in TIF financing for Warhorse Casino at Horseman’s Park

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 9:14 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A battle at Tuesday’s city council meeting about tax increment financing money for casino plans at Horseman’s Park.

City Council approved the $17.5 million request but many at the meeting are raising concerns about where the money is going. It means the casino’s developer must secure a loan from a bank or lender in an amount up to what City Council just approved.

The money would go directly towards community improvement projects including changes to Q street.

“If you try to travel this road at 8 a.m. or 5 p.m., you are going to be sitting there a while. It’s kind of a bottleneck between 72nd and 60th Street and I’m particularly proud of the fact that we will be able to fast track these types of improvements for the neighborhood,” said Lynne McNally, Executive VP of Nebraska Horsemen.

Person after person after person spoke against the financing saying no one else should have to foot the bill. Warhorse Gaming says without the TIF money the project wouldn’t be able to go on.

“We oppose the notion that the taxpayers of this community should be forced to subsidize a casino project, particularly where its sponsors spent $3 million or $6 million heralding this opportunity by virtue of amending this state’s constitution,” said Hal Daub.

City Councilmember Vinny Palermo represents District 4, where the casino will go. He says he fully supports TIF money going towards the project.

He says that’s because once the project is complete—it will keep money in Nebraska.

“I got tired of going across the bridge to a party or a function to see friends and every single time I went there, I see Nebraska plates,” said Palermo.

Councilmember Don Rowe ultimately disagreed with it. But he was outnumbered 6-1.

Rowe says his constituents swayed his ‘no’ vote.

“They are having trouble with understanding why we should rebate back tax dollars to pay for the infrastructure costs that are going to benefit the development,” said Rowe.

Officials with the casino argued the casino would bring over 500 jobs to the area an immense impact on the local economy.

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