Federal Judge rejects plans for Carter Lake casino
December 1, 2008
OMAHA – A federal judge ruled Friday that the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska cannot
build a casino in Carter Lake, Iowa, because of an agreement between the Bureau
of Indian Affairs and the State of Iowa in 2003 took precedence.
The Ponca Tribe bought the five-acre land at Carter Lake in 1999 and transferred
it into federal trust with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in February 2003.
The BIA agreed with Iowa officials that the land would be used for non-gambling
purposes. The tribe said they planned to build a health center.
However, in December 2007 the National Indian Gaming Commission approved an
application from the tribe to build a casino on the site. The plans included
2,000 slot machines, 50 table games and a 150-room hotel.
This resulted in a lawsuit filed by the attorney generals for Nebraska and Iowa
and joined by the city council of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The case was heard by Judge Charles Wolle of the Southern District of Iowa. In
his ruling Friday he agreed with the plaintiffs and reversed the December 2007
decision by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) to authorize a tribal
casino. Judge Wolle said the NIGC does not have the authority to approve a
casino on that land because the 2003 non-gambling agreement between the Bureau
of Indian Affairs and the State of Iowa takes precedence.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a statement Saturday, "We're very
pleased with the U.S. District Court's decision. A casino in Carter Lake would
have directly affected Nebraskans. The judge's ruling prohibiting gaming on the
Carter Lake land is the best possible outcome."
No immediate comments were available from the Ponca Tribe or the National Indian
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