Ponca Tribe edges towards new casino

ponca casino council bluffs

Credits: Chris Machian, AP

The Nebraskan tribe continues its casino plans despite being legally challenged by the City of Council Bluffs.

US.- The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska is reportedly advancing its plans to open a casino in Carter Lake, even if there are still some issues regarding a legal challenge that involves the City of Council Bluffs. The casino would be built at the Ponca Smoke Signals building in Carter Lake, Iowa.

Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe, said that tribal leaders are constantly trying to keep members informed of proposed casino details. “We’re moving forward. We’re evaluating and weighing our options,” he said.

The casino idea was rejected ten years ago: back then, the Attorneys General for Nebraska and Iowa, along with police and local governments, had opposed the proposal of casino development near the Carter Lake. Authorities alleged that they were concerned that the casino could boost the crime rate in Omaha.

In November 2017, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) ruled in favour of the tribe and said that a casino could be constructed on five acres of land owned in Carter Lake. A month later, Council Bluffs City Attorney Richard Wade filed a complaint in Court based on the fact that the tribe does not qualify to use the property to build a casino.

Wade said that the Ponca casino would compete with existing state-licensed gambling facilities, which contribute with millions every year. Wright said that the lawsuit was an unfortunate move as they didn’t try to talk to them. “We’re always open to talk,” he added.

Mark Gaston, a spokesman for the Indian Gaming Commission, said: “The industry has seen growth over the last five years. Many tribes game or seek to game on their Indian lands … as a form of economic development. Gaming creates jobs and generates revenue for tribes.”