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Federal judge questions Carter Lake casino plan

November 1, 2008

DES MOINES, IA A federal judge said during a hearing on the Carter Lake casino plan that he was "troubled" by the way the Ponca Tribe changed its declared plans for the land from a health care facility to an Indian casino.

Judge Charles Wolle of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa said the "process was like someone with a court case looking around for the most favorable judge."

When the Ponca purchased the land in 1999, it told the U.S. Department of Interior it would not be used for gambling. It would be used for a health care facility. The Interior Department agreed and granted approval to develop the land. However, last year, the tribe decided to build a casino instead and asked the National Indian Gaming Commission for approval, and it was granted.

Federal attorneys argue that the Ponca followed proper procedures, and the two federal agencies used the same standards to decide whether gambling should be permitted on tribal lands.

Both states of Iowa and Nebraska and the City of Council Bluffs are fighting the Ponca and the federal government to stop construction of the Lake Carter casino.

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