Ponca Tribe wins another legal battle

ponca tribe
US District Judge Stephanie Rose rejected this week motions to shut down the facility. Credits: wikiwand.com

A judge rejected motions by Iowa and Nebraska aiming to shut down the Ponca Tribe casino located in Carter Lake.

US.- The Ponca Tribe opened last November a casino in Carter Lake, land that sits on the Iowa and Nebraska border. Both states opposed to the idea for more than 10 years, and now there’s a lawsuit involved. US District Judge Stephanie Rose rejected this week motions to shut down the facility.

Earlier this year, the same judge ordered the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) to review its 2017 ruling that allowed the tribe to build the Prairie Flower Casino in Carter Lake. The casino sits on land from the Ponca Tribe and is considered tribal land under federal laws. In May, the NIGC reiterated that the land is eligible under federal law for tribal casinos.

Nebraska and Iowa attorneys wanted the judge to rule in favour of them, though the latter said that shutting down the casino would have disruptive consequences, which would be significant. The tribe would lack a revenue stream and shutting the casino down would also cost employees their jobs. “Plaintiffs admit this would have had a negative economic impact on the Tribe,” she wrote. “Other courts have declined to vacate agency decisions when doing so would have adverse economic consequences.”

The states also argued that this casino affects their finances. However, Rose said that it isn’t clear how the tribe’s casino is “any more detrimental than the three casinos, licensed by Iowa, that are already operating in neighbouring Council Bluffs.”

Tribal Chairman Larry Wright Jr said that the latest ruling questions if the states have anything else to litigate, The Seattle Times reports. He commented that since its November 2018 opening, the casino has created jobs, brought tourists and given US$775k to Carter Lake to support police and fire departments, infrastructure and general city improvements.

“It’s time to put the lawsuits behind us and focus on our shared interest of bringing more economic growth the area,” Wright said.

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