The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska has expressed its wish to open a casino in Carter Lake as soon as possible, even considering the fact that its opponents are trying to block it.
The Chairman of the Ponca Tribe, Larry Wright Jr., was exhilarated to reveal that after spending about ten years in legal actions, including legal reviews, lawsuits and appeals, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) gave the tribe the green light to establish a casino venue on its Carter Lake land. As explained by Mr. Wright Jr., the tribe’s right to operate a gambling venue in the region was confirmed by the National Indian Gaming Commission, so further discussions with the competent Iowa officials were to follow.
The further progress of the project, which has been considered controversial, depends on whether Nebraska and Iowa government officials will make a compromise in their disagreements related to the casino. In both states, representatives for the attorneys general have still not revealed if further appeal seeking another action on the project is to be filed.
Ponca Tribe’s Chairman further revealed that both timeline and details of the project are still to be worked out, but he confirmed the tribe’s intentions to develop a casino project which is quite similar to the one it proposed a decade ago. At the time when that proposal was made, the casino project involved 50 table games and 2,000 slot machines, as well as a 150-room hotel located in close proximity to downtown Omaha and the other three casinos in the region.
Ponca Tribe Casino Project Faces Lengthy Legal Battle
Some of the disagreements between the officials of Iowa and Nebraska has emerged from the fact that to date, the state of Nebraska does not allow casino gambling, but the state of Iowa does. Under federal law, Native Indian tribes are allowed to offer gambling services on land they own in case that the state has legalized gambling.
On the other hand, opening another casino venue in the region could have negative influence on Council Bluffs casinos, as it would probably offset their revenue. Reportedly, the Council Bluffs casinos managed to generate adjusted gross revenue totaling $416 million in 2016 and accounted for gaming taxes amounting to approximately $85 million. This year, the gaming tax expected to be generated by local casinos is about $3 million, which accounts for approximately 1.7% of the Council Bluffs budget.
Mayor Matt Walsh explained that consultations are to be held in Council Bluffs to determine if there is a possibility for an appeal of the latest ruling of the National Indian Gaming Commission. This is the second time when the Commission has ruled in favor of the construction of the casino. The first time when it has given the green light to the Ponca Tribe to proceed with the establishment of the gaming venue was in 2007. Unfortunately, a major lawsuit filed by Iowa, Nebraska and the City of Council Bluffs followed.
Three years later, in 2010, a divided 8th Circuit Court of Appeals returned the case for a new review by the Commission. In its latest review, the National Indian Gaming Commission reached a conclusion that the project could be given a start.