SLOAN, Iowa — Celebrating a birthday on April Fool’s Day might be a gamble, but WinnaVegas Casino Resorts isn’t averse to rolling the dice.
You can’t call it beginner’s luck since the casino – owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska – will be celebrating its anniversary with a 30th anniversary party at 1 p.m. Friday on the main floor of the entertainment complex’s main casino near Sloan, 1500 330th St.
In addition to a ribbon cutting, short presentations and refreshments, WinnaVegas will kick off a month-long celebration series, which will include a unique chance to win $500,000 in the Press for Cash contest.
In honor of his milestone birthday, here are 30 things you might not know about WinnaVegas.
1. Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska – the owner of WinnaVegas – is one of two federally recognized Ho-Chunk tribes of Native Americans. The other Ho-Chunk tribe is headquartered in Wisconsin.
2. Tribe Members Call Themselves Hochungra — or “People of parent speech.”
People also read…
3. In 1992, three years after Iowa legalized river casinos, the Department of Inspections and Appeals, on behalf of Governor Terry Branstad, negotiated gambling pacts with three tribes with reservations in Iowa, including the Winnebago.
4. WinnaVegas Casino officially opened on April 30, 1992. The facility was originally a bingo hall called, what else, WinnaBingo! Even though the gambling possibilities have increased dramatically over the years, WinnaVegas is one of the few places in Siouxland to offer bingo. Indeed, the casino’s bingo room remains one of the casino’s most popular and affordable features.
5. Measuring 54,353 square feet, WinnaVegas has one of the largest arcades in the area.
6. Today’s casino has over 767 slot machines – the most in Siouxland – and 10 casino table games.
7. WinnaVegas is the oldest Las Vegas-style casino in the area. The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska’s Blackbird Bend Casino – formerly CasinOmaha – opened near Onawa, Iowa in July 1992. The Sioux City Sue River Casino began plying the Missouri River in 1993. The casino floating, later known as Belle of Sioux City, closed in July 2014, days before the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in downtown Sioux City.
8. One of the driving forces of the local community, WinnaVegas employs hundreds of local residents, paying more than $311 million in salaries to date.
9. WinnaVegas also has a spacious event center and several meeting rooms.
11. The casino paid over $270 million to local vendors for products and services.
12. WinnaVegas has donated over $5.7 million to various Siouxland entities.
13. Profits from the casino are reinvested by the tribe in the community of Winnebago. About 1,150 people live on the reserve.
14. In 2019, WinnaVegas ranked #1 on a list of Iowa casinos by readers of Casino Player magazine. Not only did it top the ‘Where You Feel Luckiest’ category, but the property was chosen as ‘Favorite Casino Resort for Vacationing’.
15. Guests often rave about the Flower Island restaurant in WinnaVegas, which offers buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
16. The name of the restaurant is meaningful. WinnaVegas now sits on what was once an island in the middle of the Missouri River. The name of the island was Flower Island.
17. Similarly, Kasu Cafe, the casino’s fast-casual restaurant, is named after a game played by Ho-Chunk ladies who used bone or wooden dice.
18. The best thing on the Kasu Cafe menu? The Cowboy Burger, with a quarter pound beef patty, cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce and topped with a large onion ring.
19. Luckily, duck is not on the menu at Kasu Cafe. When the Missouri River flooded in 2011, there was a period when the only way to reach WinnaVegas was via Ducks, amphibious vehicles that can go on land and water.
20. Country stars like Willie Nelson, Toby Keith and Jake Owen have played WinnaVegas.
21. Superstar Tanya Tucker will continue the tradition with her “Hard Luck Tour,” which arrives in WinnaVegas on May 14.
22. Legendary rockers like Bachman & Turner, Foreigner and Styx have also entered the casino.
23. With more than three decades of touring, Big Head Todd — already Saturday at the park’s veterans — will rock WinnaVegas on June 4.
24. Want your entertainment to be a little more kitschy? 90s favorites such as Tiffany, Sheena Easton and C+C Music Factory have entertained WinnaVegas crowds for the past year.
25. Ever expanding its demographics, WinnaVegas has hosted a truly diverse lineup of performers, from tender boleros to brassy mariachi to edgy Afro-Cuban music.
26. This trend will continue with The Mavericks, an iconic group that mixes tex-mex, neo-traditional country, Latin and rockabilly. They will come to WinnaVegas on April 23.
27. Let’s say music isn’t your thing. The casino has been the scene of boxing, wrestling and MMA matches over the years.
28. Are you more of a sportsman than a spectator? WinnaVegas offers a stylish, all-weather indoor golf simulator. Athletes who want to work less might be impressed with the WinnaVegas Games Lounge, which offers a full selection of PlayStation, Wii, and Xbox games.
29. In 2020, former Journal reporter and online editor Cole Paxton took a chance on visiting WinnaVegas for an article. With $5 in his pocket, Paxton played the slots for about 20 minutes. Did he hit big? No, but Paxton still had about a dollar left in change when he left the casino.
30. Who knows? Gambling is a matter of luck as much as strategy. Maybe you’ll be a big WinnaVegas winner. Remember that a 30th birthday is considered a “Pearl” birthday.