Order clears the way for Ponca Tribe to build casino in Carter Lake

Order clears the way for Ponca Tribe to build casino in Carter Lake

The Ponca Smoke Signals building at 1001 Avenue H in Carter Lake is on land where the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska wants to build a casino.

The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska wants to move quickly to open a casino in Carter Lake, even as opponents scramble for a way to block it.

Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe, expressed elation Wednesday after a decade of lawsuits, appeals and legal reviews concluded with the National Indian Gaming Commission saying the tribe can put a casino on five acres of land it owns in Carter Lake.

Whether the controversial project actually moves forward depends on whether government officials in Iowa and Nebraska end their fight to stop a casino. Representatives for the attorneys general in both states did not say Wednesday if they will appeal or pursue some other action.

Details and a timeline have yet to be worked out, but Wright said the tribe intends to develop a project “fundamentally similar” to one it proposed in 2007. Plans at that time called for a casino with 2,000 slot machines, 50 table games and a 150-room hotel within minutes of downtown Omaha and the three other casinos across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs.

The tribe of the famous Chief Standing Bear lost its federal recognition and reservation land holdings in 1962. But tribal leaders regained federal status in 1990 and began the long work of rebuilding a council and governmental structure. The tribe purchased the Carter Lake land in 1999.


“They have reaffirmed the tribe’s sovereign right to conduct gaming here,” Wright said. “We look forward to having a respectful and productive dialogue with the appropriate officials in Iowa.”

Carter Lake Mayor Gerald Waltrip and other city officials declined to comment, said a woman who answered the phone at the city offices.


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Started working in the Casino Industry in 1985, just never managed to leave as yet. Visited 99% of all UK Casinos, seen them all,

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