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Fight for Indigenous US Casino Mirrors First Nations Success

There seem to be a lot of things that need to be sorted out with regards to indigenous casinos. It is pretty clear that there is a big indigenous population in both Canada and the United States, and these people have often found themselves marginalised. This is especially the case when it comes to the casino and gambling industry, but all that could be changing sooner rather than later.

Indeed, last month a historic movement occurred in Canada, when the new B.C. budget was announced, and there was a pledge to give money to First Nations casinos over a three year period. For many people, this was long overdue, as it provided the Indigenous population with resources and money they have been entitled to for some time. There are some pretty great First Nations casinos across Canada, and this bill was helping to recognise that fact.

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Well, it seem like the same thing needs to happen in the United States, and there has been controversy of late surrounding Indigenous tribes. The Ponca Tribe, based out of Nebraska, is celebrating the opening of Prairie Flower Casino in Iowa. However, it does appear that the governments of Iowa and Nebraska seem set on stripping the casino from them.

The purpose of the casino has been an attempt to secure the much-needed revenue for the Poncas, who appear to be struggling. The tribe actually set the wheels in motion for this a decade ago, and things were finally sorted out in November 2018, after the National Indian Gaming Commission approved the tribe’s license. But, things could come to an end before they’ve even really go going, with the location proving to be a big reason why both states are still fighting the opening and running of this casino.

One of the big factors with the Prairie Flower seems to be the fact that, unlike most tribal casinos, this one was not built on a reservation. But, the Ponca Tribe may well point to the fact that this is because they have no reservation anymore, after the US government forced them to leave their home in a bid to abolish reservations. Eventually regaining federal recognition in 1990, the tribe has been working tirelessly to secure casino development.

However, there are some who oppose the move, based on its location on a 5-acre lot in Carter Lake. But, there are probably some more obvious reasons behind this as well, moving forward. Indeed, money could well be the decisive factor here, as officials seem reluctant to give up a share of the money produced by the three other casinos at nearby Council Bluffs. Mayor of Council Bluffs, Matt Walsch claimed that, “Our early estimates are that the state of Iowa could lose $30 million in state gaming tax revenue, and we could lose another million in taxes and fees a year locally.”

It seems that the issue here is that many feel the Prairie Flower casino is going to take business, and revenue, away from the other casinos in and around the area. The same concerns crop up in Canada any time a new development project is announced, and this is something the US is going to need to get used to.

First Nations have been clamouring for a slice of gambling revenue in Canada for some time, and they’ve been entitled to it. And the recent developments have helped secure them some of the funding they need. This is why it is important for the US to put things into motion that are going to help them to do the same for the Indigenous population.

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