Ponca Tribe of Nebraska planning casino despite lawsuit
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Native American tribe is still planning to open a casino on the Iowa-Nebraska border despite a pending legal challenge from both states.
The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska announced Monday that the newly named Prairie Flower Casino will open in late October on tribal land in Carter Lake, Iowa.
The project’s first phase will include 9,500 square feet of space, 200 slot-style games and a full-service bar and snack bar. Project developers said the casino will initially hire about 100 people to staff the facility.
Officials from Iowa state government and the city of Council Bluffs are suing federal officials who approved the project in hopes of stopping the casino. They contend the new casino would compete with state-licensed casinos in nearby Council Bluffs that generate millions of dollars annually in fees, taxes and charitable contributions.
Nebraska joined the lawsuit because state officials want to keep slot machines and roulette tables out of the only Iowa city that directly touches its border. Carter Lake sits on the west side of the Missouri River, next to Omaha, and the only way to access it by land is through Nebraska. Nebraska’s constitution bans casino gambling.
After a decade of lawsuits, appeals and legal reviews, the National Indian Gaming Commission said in November that the tribe can put a casino on five acres of land it owns in Carter Lake. In December, Council Bluffs City Attorney Richard Wade filed a lawsuit to overturn that decision.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Chairman Larry Wright Jr. said the casino “will allow us to better serve our members while bringing economic development and growth to the Carter Lake region.”