The Ponca Tribe was one very happy group when they made an announcement that they are going to build a beautiful casino in a place called Carter Lake in Iowa. This announcement was made back in 2003, and the tribe had no idea what type of legal nightmare they would be facing for the next 16 years.
The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) gave them official approval to proceed with building the casino, but there were other obstacles along the way. Their Prairie Flower Casino was also a subject of discussion of the officials of Iowa who concluded that they didn’t want such a facility. In fact, the state of Iowa did all it could in order to prevent the dream of the Ponca Tribe to become a reality.
But Iowa was not the only state that was openly hostile towards the idea. Nebraska also did not like the fact that there will be a casino in Carter Lake, so the two states joined forces in order to fight the tribe in their intentions.
The Ponca Tribe was not a match for the two united states, which had all sorts of connections that stood in their way. However, the tribe did not give up all these years and continued to show fierce resistance, eventually winning the case. In other words, the Ponca people won the case as a federal judge ruled in their favor.
Why All the Fuss?
In order to understand why Iowa and Nebraska were so hostile towards the idea of having a casino, you need to consider the geography of Carter Lake. The entire area is located in Iowa, but it is almost entirely surrounded by the state of Nebraska.
The reason why Iowa did not want a casino in the first place is because it believes that there are already too many casinos in the area. However, the reason why Nebraska joined them is that the state did not actually legalize gambling.
The tribe had to undergo a legal nightmare, but they eventually emerged winners. The casino has been in operation for almost a year now, and the US District Court Judge Stephanie Ross found it entirely legal. The states requested that she turn down the decision made NIGC, but she refused to do so.
The main argument posed by Nebraska is that the casino is very close to its borders. However, this argument is seen as irrelevant and not directly in violation of Nebraska’s anti-gambling laws. In fact, Nebraska’s involvement in the case is not relevant at all.
Iowa had more right to get involved since there are three big commercial casinos within half an hour drive from Carter Lake. However, federal laws have given specific concession rights to Native American tribes that can use their land the way they want. Therefore, Iowa also failed to put a stop to it, and the casino now has no more obstacles in the way.
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