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Iowa Casino Remains Open


This news story was published on October 14, 2019.
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The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska proposed to develop a casino resort back in 2007 and went through a number of challenges to secure the necessary approval and the required land to build its ‘Prairie Flower Casino’

Prairie Flower Casino

The Ponca Tribe remained patient over the years and continued to push for a license approval. The tribe received a license approval only in 2017 and went on to invest over $10 million to develop the Prairie Flower Casino which is located at Carter Lake, Iowa. The location is very interesting as it is just 5 minutes away from Downtown Omaha and on the west side of the Missouri River.

Yes, You can pretty much gamble anywhere in the USA

The Prairie Flower Casino opened its doors to the public on 1 Nov 2018 and has done reasonably well for itself during the last 10 months. The casino floor covers 9,500 square feet and has 200 slot machines along with a casino bar and snack bar. The tribe has plans to roll out Phase 2 which will be a lot bigger than Phase 1 and house more than 2,000 slot machines, 50 table games and a new hotel that will have 150 rooms.

Opposition to Prairie Flower Casino

The tribe has had to face multiple legal challenges ever since it announced its plans to invest $10 million and build its tribal casino. Nebraska filed a lawsuit to shut down the casino stating that it would increase crime in Omaha and cause more damage than good to the locals. Iowa filed a lawsuit against the casino because it posed a threat to the state’s gambling revenues and the amount the state government will collect in gaming taxes.

Council Bluffs, Iowa which is a neighbouring city has also filed a lawsuit alleging that Prairie Flower Casino is not based on reservation land and special exceptions were made to grant the tribe a license. Council Bluffs is home to three state owned casinos and knows that the Prairie Flower Casino could cut into its revenues and lure its patrons away.

While there is continued legal pressure being applied to shut down the casino, US players should not be concerned about a potential closure. If it closes there are real deposit casinos online ready to take over.

Ponca Tribe Winning the Battle

The Ponca tribe has had to face an all-out legal attack which has proven to be quite challenging but the small tribe hasn’t cowered down. The tribe invested over $10 million into the casino resort and is willing to fight whatever legal challenge might come its way and so far it is doing rather well with the National Indian Gaming Commission ruling in its favour so far. 

Federally recognized tribes are allowed to develop and run their tribal casino resorts on reservation land. One of the key points in the lawsuit against the Ponca Tribe is that the Prairie Flower Casino wasn’t built on reservation land. That argument can be either true or false depending on how you look at things.

The Ponca Tribe was kicked out of its homeland located along the Missouri River in Nebraska. The tribe was forced out in the 1870s by the US Government and lost most of its reservation land in the process. The US Government decided to take over the remaining land that belonged to the Ponca tribe in 1960 after it decided to do away with all reservation lands and imbibe Native American tribes into regular American society. The tribe was stripped of its Federal status in 1960 as a result.

The Ponca Tribe regained its Federal Status back in 1990 and now has a little more than 4,500 tribal members who live in 15 different counties located in Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa.   

Carter Lake Location 

The Ponca tribe initially proposed to build a health center at the Carter Lake lot and got approval to the land. The grant of this land to the tribe officially made it reservation land and the Ponca tribe decided to go ahead and develop its Prairie Flower Casino. Opposition parties argue that this cannot be considered reservation land as the tribe proposed a health center to get it but used it for a casino.

The National Indian Gaming Commission looked into the matter and ruled in favour of the Ponca tribe in 2017 and adjudged the Carter Lake lot as reservation land. The opposition parties opposed a Federal Court as they were not happy with the ruling and a Federal Judge once again instructed the Commission to review their 2017 decision. Once again, the commission ruled in favour of the Ponca tribe and the second ruling further infuriated the opposing parties.

The Commission stated that the parcel of land is located within the original territory where the tribe has had its roots for centuries and the Ponca tribe continues to have current connections to the location. These geographical factors were sufficient to prove that the restored land can be treated as reservation land.

Opposition Parties Will Continue To Fight 

The opposition parties have a lot to lose and have vowed to continue their fight against the Ponca tribe and get the Prairie Flower Casino closed for good. The Attorney General for Nebraska was not very happy with the Commission and how they handled the matter. AG Doug Peterson said that the Commission did not take input from the involved parties and made their decision without a proper review.

AG Peterson has called on the Department of Interior as well as other Federal departments to look into the matter and the Commission’s governance and handling of this case. Peterson said that they would continue to take the legal route till the matter it settled by a Federal Court.

The Ponca Tribe’s legal team stated that based on the Commission’s ruling, all legal issues in the district courts have now been closed!

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