Ushering in the end of decade-long legal battle, the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska has been notified that the National Indian Gaming Commission has ruled the group can finally proceed with plans to build a gaming facility.
The tribe is to develop on five acres of lands that it owns in Iowa, which unfortunately looks set to create its own dialogue as officials in the state stand directly opposed to the venture.
Chairman of the Ponca tribe, Larry Wright Jr commented: “They have affirmed the tribe’s sovereign right to conduct gaming here. We look forward to having a respectful and productive dialogue with the appropriate officials in Iowa.”
The tribe says they plan to move forward with developing a project similar to one they proposed in 2007. That facility would have included 2,000 slots, 50 table games, and a 150-room hotel.
At present it is unclear whether government officials in Iowa and Nebraska will now end their fight to stop a casino, with representatives for the attorneys general in both states yet to confirm if they will appeal or pursue some other action.
James Meggesto, a Washington DC-based attorney who represented the tribe, stated that he could not “say for sure” whether an appeal is possible or likely.
But he said the commission’s order shows that it clearly considered arguments on both sides of the dispute.
“It’s certainly gratifying to see that the government took a hard look at this and vindicated the tribe’s rights,” he said.