The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska celebrated the opening of its new Prairie Flower Casino in Carter Lake on November 1, 2018, and in spite of a federal lawsuit filed late last year by the City of Council Bluffs, the 9,500 square foot casino has reportedly enjoyed repeat business.
According to KETV Channel 7 Omaha…
Chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, Larry Wright Jr. said that since the casino opened in November, there are always cars in the parking lot and that it has proven that the Carter Lake area was in need of more entertainment and more options.
“they get to play longer“
Wright says that the casino is beginning to see repeat business.
“They love the time that they’re able to spend here, one of the biggest feedbacks we have is that they get to play longer, be on the machines longer, and that’s one of our goals, to have that customer experience.”
The gaming facility is located in the small town of Carter Lake, which is surrounded by the state of Nebraska and only a few miles from downtown Omaha, which is the nation’s 40th largest city and where casino gambling is still illegal.
The hope is that the casino will draw a large number of its future players from what is the state’s largest city and just three miles from Carter Lake. The city in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, is also less than a mile from Omaha’s Eppley Airfield, which sees more than 4 million passengers annually.
The opening comes after a decade of lawsuits, appeals and legal reviews, including a series of rulings from the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), which in November 2017, gave the tribe the green light for the casino.
However, toward the latter part of May 2018, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson (R) announced a motion to intervene (pdf) in a lawsuit against the NIGC regarding its November decision. The request, which was unopposed by the federal government, was approved by a federal magistrate.
The argument by Peterson was that in 2003 when the Ponca Tribe requested that a 4.8-acre parcel of land in Carter Lake be placed into trust it promised that the land would be used for a healthcare facility. Peterson also reportedly said that federal law limits the Ponca Tribe’s lands to Boyd and Knox counties in Nebraska and that both counties are over 100 miles from Carter Lake.
Peterson argued when the tribe requested to have the 4.8-acre parcel in Carter Lake in Iowa placed into trust in 2003 that it promised to use the land for a healthcare facility. Additionally, Peterson said federal law limits the tribe’s lands to Knox and Boyd counties in Nebraska, and both counties are more than 100 miles from Carter Lake, which lies just outside Omaha in Nebraska.
Threat to neighboring casinos:
Due to its location, the Prairie Flower Casino is seen as a threat to cut into tax revenues generated by commercial (non-Indian) gambling enterprises that currently operate in the state. Meanwhile, officials in Nebraska want to keep the slots and the tables away from the state where casino gambling is still illegal (except for Indian gaming).
The tribe, however, remains confident that they will prevail.
“It’s still ongoing, but we’re confident with everything that we’ve done from building the facility to operating the facility, that we’re in compliance with all the regulations and requirements that are out there for us,” said Wright.
Problem gambling advocate:
According to the news agency, Gambling with the Good Life, which formed in 1995 to oppose gambling expansion in Nebraska, says it still supports the fight against the casino. The organization’s website the organization’s Executive Director, Pat Loontjer, “Gambling with the Good Life filed an Amicus brief in Nebraska’s 2008 case that prevented the building of the casino.”
KETV reports that according to the Carter Lake Police Department since the casino opened some 10 weeks ago it has not seen any escalation of calls in the area.
The gaming venue features 200 Vegas-style slots along with a full-service pub and a snack bar and is open 24 hours a day. Approximately 100 people are employed by the casino and its represents phase one of the Prairie Flower project.
While currently are no gaming tables, plans to expand the venue’s footprint to include up to 2,000 gaming machines and 50 live table games are in-progress and will be released to the public when finalized, according to the tribe’s August press release.