Ameristar Casino Hotel on Tuesday is celebrating a major business milestone: 25 years of serving the greater Council Bluffs-Omaha community.
“Since opening its doors in 1996, Ameristar Casino has experienced exceptional growth and development,” Vice President and General Manager Paul Czak said in a news release. “This includes new and innovative products that our guests continue to enjoy, including the exciting Amerisports Bar Sports Book and the launch of our loyalty program’s mychoice app.”
Since its inception, Czak noted how the operation has provided outlets for countless thousands patrons, while also providing career opportunities for hundreds of area residents. In fact, provided information shows that 26 employees have been with the operation since its doors opened.
Many, he said, viewed starting positions as just that — a way to get their foot in the door professionally but in all likelihood move on in a few years. Czak added that because of the employee-friendly culture, this never transpired.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Czak said during an interview with the Nonpareil. “I think we have 26 that will celebrate 25 years with us, and I believe we have 14 that started the very first day we opened. We’ve been doing profiles on them for the property, and the one thing they all tell you is that when they were 18, 19, or 20, maybe they wanted to be something like a Nebraska State Police Officer.
“So they’d start as something like a security officer here, and within six months they would fall in love with the place, and now 25 years has gone by. It’s a really common story — no one was looking for a permanent casino job but they found one.”
Czak also cited the economic impact an operation like Ameristar has on a town like Council Bluffs.
“At the time I don’t think anyone knew how long it would last, or how long it would make it,” Czak said, referencing the casino. “But now I sit back and think about all of it, and the economic impact that we’ve had over here.
“Between taxes and revenue sharing and everything, it’s (providing) $40-$45 million a year, alone. And when you start running that up over 25 years you start getting to that billion dollar mark. It shows the impact that you can have from a sustained business in the town this size — it’s pretty incredible.”
Since taking over the operation about four years ago, Czak reflected on the bonds made, the big wins seen and the enjoyment so many casino-goers have inside its walls. For Czak, that’s really the best part of his job.
“Just having the ability to have this kind of impact on people’s lives,” he said. “To have people who have a great place to work where they know they’ll be treated well and with respect, to have a career to provide for themselves and their families.
“And then we have the guests who’ve been consistently coming for the past 25 years. You come and you will see the same folks in line for lunch right when we open at 11 o’clock, every day. I’ve worked in a lot of different casino markets, and here, we walk up and down and we see folks and we have relationships with people.
“It’s not just a business transaction, and that’s not common anymore.”