Some four months after premiering its $10 million Prairie Flower Casino in western Iowa and the federally-recognized, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, is now reportedly facing a legal fight to keep the facility open.
According to a Sunday report from the Associated Press news service published by ABC News, the 9,500 sq ft tribal venue opened on the first day of November offering a collection of some 200 video slots but was immediately slapped with separate lawsuits filed by the states of Iowa and Nebraska.
The states’ legal actions are reportedly seeking to shut down the Prairie Flower facility amid claims that the Nebraska tribe had misrepresented its intentions because it had initially declared that it would be using the five-acre parcel of land in the small community of Carter Lake to house a tribal health center and not a casino. The lawsuits also contend that the gambling venue should be closed due to the fact that it is not located on reservation land and is only accessible by travelling through Nebraska, which is a state that expressly forbids casinos.
Reportedly, the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska does not have a reservation because its federal recognition was terminated in the 1960s as part of an effort that was designed to assimilate the tribe into mainstream American society. However, the tribe, which has approximately 4,500 enrolled members spread across the region, managed to regain its federal status in 1990 before going on to purchase the Carter Lake enclave some eleven years later and subsequently obtain a license for its Prairie facility from the National Indian Gaming Commission.
Council Bluffs action:
Ponca Tribe is additionally being sued by the Iowa city of Council Bluffs over fears that the new tribal facility could adversely impact the tax revenues already being collected from a trio of nearby commercial casinos encompassing the Horseshoe Council Bluffs and the Harrah’s Council Bluffs Hotel and Casino from Caesars Entertainment Corporation as well as Penn National Gaming Incorporated’s Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs. These venues contributed almost $95 million to the public coffers in 2017 while Council Bluffs Mayor, Matt Walsch, told the Associated Press that the state stands to lose up to $30 million a year if the Prairie Flower Casino was to remain open.
Tribe remains ‘confident’:
Despite the opposition, Larry Wright, Chairman for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, told the news service that he feels ‘confident in our position’ and that the Prairie Flower Casino will ‘improve support for our services and our people.’
“It’s the same fight, all these years after it began.”