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For immediate release – Friday, August 22, 2008.
Contact Bob Brammer, Attorney General’s Office, 515-281-6699

Statement of Gov. Chet Culver and
Attorney General Tom Miller

Iowa Challenges National Indian Gaming Commission Decision

The State of Iowa filed a complaint today in Federal District Court challenging a decision by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) approving the gaming ordinance submitted by the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.  [Go to PDF copy of the Complaint.

We believe that the NIGC decision, issued on December 31, 2007, is contrary to an initial determination by the Commission, and its own legal counsel, that the Carter Lake parcel does not qualify as “restored lands” that can be used for Indian gaming.  By reversing course, the Commission’s most recent decision would allow the Tribe to move forward with negotiating a Compact to establish a casino at Carter Lake. We are seeking judicial review of the Commission’s final decision before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, in Des Moines.

The Ponca Tribe previously had noted publicly and had acknowledged in writing that the Carter Lake parcel did not qualify as gaming-eligible “restored lands” under federal law.  Rather, the Tribe stated that it intended to use the five-acre Carter Lake parcel for a health clinic and other tribal services, but never for a casino.

Our lawsuit is predicated on the fact that the Commission erred in concluding that the Carter Lake parcel qualifies as “restored lands” that are eligible under federal law to be used for gaming.   The State of Iowa is asking the Court for a Declaratory Judgment vacating and setting aside the Commission’s decision to approve the Tribe’s gaming ordinance and declaring that the Carter Lake parcel does not qualify as “restored lands” eligible to be used for gaming.