Ponca Tribe of Nebraska win another legal battle over casino

The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska has scored another legal win in its fight to keep its casino in western Iowa open.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose this week rejected motions in a lawsuit by the states of Iowa and Nebraska and the Iowa city of Council Bluffs seeking to derail the casino. The governments’ motion sought to amend Rose’s order earlier this year in which she required the National Indian Gaming Commission to revisit its 2017 ruling giving the tribe the right to build the Prairie Flower Casino on land it owns in Carter Lake.

This week’s ruling was the most recent in the legal skirmish between the tribe and the state and local governments over the tribe’s decade-long battle to open the casino on land it bought some 20 years ago. The tribe initially said it planned to build a health center on the Carter Lake lot. Council Bluffs and the states sued when the tribe later sought federal permission for a casino there.

In their latest motion, attorneys for Nebraska, Iowa and Council Bluffs had wanted the judge to declare that her order had vacated the commission’s 2017 ruling, which likely would have required the casino to shut down as litigation dragged on. Rose rejected the request, saying “the disruptive consequences […] would have been significant.”

Closing down the casino would eliminate a revenue stream for the tribe and cost casino employees their jobs, the judge said. MDT/AP

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