by Ty Rushing
Champagne was flowing as the sound of slot machines and applause filled the air inside of WinnaVegas Casino and Resort during a recent ceremony to commemorate the venue’s 25th anniversary.
Owned and operated by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, the gambling oasis surrounded by cornfields on tribal land west of Sloan, Iowa, WinnaVegas opened its doors two-and-a-half decades ago while operating out of three connected prefabricated units and two mobile trailers.
Humble beginnings for an entity now credited with developing hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, creating a tourism beacon in rural western Iowa, financing numerous social support programs on the Winnebago reservation and providing the seed money for Ho-Chunk Inc., the tribe's globe-spanning economic development corporation.
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