Nation | Tribe: Ponca Tribe of Nebraska
1031 Ave H
Carter Lake, IA 51510
The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska opened their new Prairie Flower Casino in Carter Lake, Iowa on Nov 1, 2018 despite legal challenges from Council Bluffs. The casino site is west of Council Bluffs and north of Omaha.
Prairie Flower Casino was approved by the federal government and built on the old site of the Tribe's smoke shop in Carter Lake, IA.
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9,500 square-foot casino (Phase 1)
25,000-square-feet in later expansion
Minimum age 21 years and older
200 Class II gaming machines
September 8, 2021
A federal appeals court handed a major victory last week to the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and its Prairie Flower Casino. Both Iowa and Nebraska had sued the tribe to close the casino which opened in 2018.
The court upheld the legal right of the tribe to build the casino at its location in Carter Lake, Iowa. Carter Lake is a small, two-mile stretch of land on the west side of the Missouri River that is part of Iowa and surrounded by Nebraska. The casino property was purchased by the Ponca Tribe in 1999 and later added to the tribe's reservation land by the U.S. Department of Interior.
The State of Iowa sued to stop construction of the Prairie Flower Casino claiming the Carter Lake land did not qualify as tribal land and is not covered by the Ponca Restoration Act (PRA) of 1990. The Ponca Tribe reservation is 100 miles away in Knox and Boyd Counties, Nebraska.
The State of Nebraska joined the casino opposition with similar arguments regarding the federal process for transferring off-reservation land into federal trust. The City of Council Bluffs, Iowa also joined the fight to protect its local casinos.
This week a panel of three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled the Ponca Tribe has the full right to operate the Prairie Flower Casino at Carter Lake because it complies with the Ponca Restoration Act and the U.S. Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
August 16, 2019
The Prairie Flower Casino opened Nov 1, 2018 after a decade of legal fights to stop construction. Since opening the legal fight continues. A lawsuit filed by three governments - the City of Council Bluffs, Iowa and Nebraska - demands the casino should be shut down.
In the case before U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose of the Southern District of Iowa the plaintiffs argued that a March ruling by the judge was in error by not ordering the National Indian Gaming Commission to shut down the casino.
Their argument was based on two factors. First, the casino is built on land purchased by the tribe in 1999 and does not qualify as restored lands under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Second, the plaintiffs claim the Ponca Tribe violated a 2002 agreement made by its attorney that the land would never be used for a casino.
The tribe countered the claims saying the casino land does qualify as restored lands and the 2002 agreement was signed by the Tribal Council.
Judge Stephanie Rose rejected the plaintiffs' argument to vacate the approval of the casino by the National Indian Gaming Commission allowing the Prairie Flower Casino to remain open.
May 2, 2019
The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska opened the Prairie Flower Casino in Carter Lake, Iowa in November 2018. The location is in western Iowa on the western side of the Missouri River. It is surrounded by Omaha and across the river from Council Bluff.
When the casino opened, there was immediate legal action filed by Iowa attorney general, the Nebraska attorney general and the city of Council Bluffs, Iowa. The Nebraska AG fears the casino would attract crime and sued for misrepresentation. The tribe originally represented the casino project as a health center. The Iowa AG fears the loss of gambling tax revenues, and Council Bluffs wants to protect local gambling revenues.
The Prairie Flower Casino was not built on reservation land, since the Ponca Tribe has no reservation after being forced from ancestral lands along the Missouri River in the 1870s. In the 1960s the Ponca Tribe was terminated under the United States policy of assimilating tribes into American society. The tribe was reinstated with federal recognition in 1990. Its members live in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
The case was presented in a federal court in March. The judge decided to order the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) to review its decision that authorized the casino and reconsider whether the Carter Lake property qualifies as restored tribal lands eligible for casinos.
Federal law allows tribes to build Class II casino on reservation land without state or local approval and jurisdiction.
The NIGC announced its findings on May 1 in favor of the tribe. It issued this statement: "Since the parcel is within the aboriginal territory of the tribe and the tribe possesses modern connections to it, based on the geographic factor alone, the parcel is restored lands."
This is a huge win for the Ponca Tribe.
An attorney for Council Bluffs said the city will continue the lawsuit. The Iowa attorney general's office is reviewing and considering its next step. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson issued a statement challenging the NIGC's decision and believes the case will continue in the federal courts. A tribe attorney said the legal fight is over.
Nov 1, 2018
The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska opened their new Carter Lake casino on Nov 1, 2018.
The new casino is located 3 miles from downtown Omaha on the intersection of Ninth Street and Avenue H. The property is 5 acres. The 9,500 square foot building offers 200 electronic gaming machines. Currently there are no table games. There is also a snack bar. As well as a full service bar. Guests 21 and over are welcome at the 24 hour gaming venue.
This is a large milestone to open the casino. Lawsuits have slowed the progress on the project for nearly ten years.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place on November 01, at noon. The casino is owned by the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.
September 18, 2018
The new Prairie Flower Casino in Carter Lake is owned by the Ponca Tribe. The casino is preparing to open in October. On Monday the tribal council presented a check for $250,000 the to Carter Lake City Council during their monthly meeting.
After the casino has been open for 90 days, another check will be given to the city council. Three times a year, the city will be paid by the tribal council as part of the agreement from the new casino. The yearly total will be between $400,000 and $500,000.
The casino will be built in phases. The first phase will be a gaming facility of 9,500 square feet. 200 electronic games will be in operation. Gaming will be open to guests 21 years and older. Once opened, the casino will have 100 employees.
July 19, 2018
Property is being prepared for the beginning of construction for a new casino in Carter Lake. The casino will be owned by the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. Land where it will be built is undergoing the final legal steps for it to be taken into trust as tribal land.
A ground breaking ceremony was held in June for the new project. It was held on four acres of land in an industrial section of town. A prayer was given by the tribe's cultural affairs director, Dwight Howe during the ceremony.
Close to the Omaha city border, the ceremony had officials use their shovels to dug into the dirt where the casino will be built. Currently the tribe operates a tobacco store where the new casino will be built.
The project is being seen as a way for the tribe to develop their own sovereignty and build their economic independence. Money from the casino will go to fund tribal programs for housing, education, and healthcare.
Design plans for the facility have not been released. It will be developed in several phases. The casino will operate 2,000 slot machines in the beginning. In time they will add a hotel with seven stories. The casino will also be redone, expanded, and add table games.
Carter Lake is located on the western side of the Missouri River and on the border of Nebraska.
In order for the city to support the land being put into trust for the tribe, it was agreed that payments would be made to the city instead of property taxes. The money would be used to cover expenses that will be needed for the area. Such as additional police and fire services.
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