Omaha Tribe readies new Onawa casino -
Published Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 5:00 am / Updated at 2:41 pm
Money Talks
Omaha Tribe readies new Onawa casino

In the Money Talks blog, The World-Herald shares the latest in Nebraska business and development, with behind-the-scenes notes from our Money team. Read more and join the conversation.

Table games, a restaurant and bar and a gift shop are all coming back to the Blackbird Bend casino, formerly CasinOmaha, which will reopen in a brand new building on Wednesday.

The Omaha Tribe-owned casino, located in Onawa between Omaha and Sioux City, was shut down by Missouri River flooding in June 2011. It reopened in a portion of the old building about a year ago while the new facility was under construction, said marketing director Mike Krysl.

“It’s much like a phoenix rising out of the ashes,” Krysl said. “We like to think of this as a situation where a blackbird is rising out of the flood waters.”

The new facility is next door to the old building, Krysl said, a portion of which will open in March as a bingo hall.

The new building will sit 6 feet higher than the old casino, Krysl said, to prevent future flooding. “Hopefully we’ll never see flooding of that magnitude again,” he said. “Just in case, I think there’s some satisfaction in knowing that extra precaution has been taken.”

About 140 people have been hired to staff the facility. It will include a restaurant, the Upstream Cafe, which will have a la carte and buffet items, a bar and a gift shop and will also be used for promotions and live entertainment events. Those were features missed by residents in the area, who weren’t necessarily interested in gambling but missed having a restaurant. The temporary casino had a snack bar and slot machines.

A grand opening ceremony will be held Feb. 21. Leaders from the Omaha Tribal Council will perform a cedar ceremony, a ritual intended to bless the new building.

Contact the writer: Paige Yowell    |   402-444-1414    |  

Paige covers commercial development news primarily for the Money section's news blog, Money Talks.

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