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Concern for Carter Lake casino near Siena Francis

Posted at 10:18 PM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 23:18:06-04

The Ponca Tribe wants the Praire Flower Casino near Abbott Drive and Avenue H up and running by late October.

Some say it's welcome, but other say it's too close to the Siena Francis House. Members of the Ponca Tribe broke ground earlier this summer, something a group against gambling says was a mistake.

"No, it's not a good thing for anybody especially the north side which is where a lot of our poverty is," said Pat Loontjer, executive director of the Gambling with the Good Life. "It's within walking distance of Creighton University, within walking distance of the Open Door Mission."

Loontjer has been trying to stop the casino that's been planned for more than 20 years. Open Door Mission president Candace Gregory issued a statement:

"History says that putting a casino so near to our campus, and in such close proximity to such a vulnerable population, could usher in an unintended wave of human and economic consequences" - Candace Gregory, President/CEO

Council Bluffs and the states of Iowa and Nebraska have sued federal officials who approved the casino in an effort to stop it. Loontjer says the people of Nebraska have already spoken

"It's been on our ballot in Nebraska twice and the people of Nebraska said enough is enough no casinos and no slot machines," Loontjer said.

The casino plans to hire about a hundred people when it opens in October. Despite opposition, Carter Lake Mayor Ron Cumberledge sees opportunity and growth on the horizon.

"Hopefully this economic development over in this area that hasn't seen anything in my lifetime, it's been a vacant grass field, I mean, we're looking to bring jobs, a little destination, recreation and opportunity for that area," Cumberledge said.

The Ponca Tribe plans to expand the facility after it opens. Phase one includes a 9,500 sq. ft. space with 200 slots to start.