The Ponca Tribe has started the process to open a nearly
$10 million casino.
casino, planned for the intersection of U.S. 177 and U.S.
60, will be larger and in a better location than the tribe’s
current casino off U.S. 177 inside the tribal town of
White Eagle, Chairman Dwight Buffalo Head said.
trying to become less and less dependent on federal dollars,”
Buffalo Head said. “Right now, we’re just
in a bad location. We’re trying to make ourselves
more accessible to the public.”
new casino also is expected to employ more than 100 people
compared with about 70 at the old site, Blue
Star Casino, said Carter Camp, administrative assistant
for the tribe.
tribe hired Merit Management of Chicago to conduct a feasibility
study which determined the best location to be at the
intersection of the two highways on the northern boundary
of tribal land and just south of Ponca City.
still need to negotiate leasing or buying the land from
tribe members, Camp said.
the agreement, Merit Management will provide funds to
construct the casino and will manage it for five years.
During that time, the company will take 30 percent of
profits and train Ponca members to take over. After five
years, the tribe will run the casino and take all profits
to supplement tribal programs, Camp said.
are unsure how much the casino will earn, but are excited
about its prospects, Camp said. The old casino is the
main source of nonfederal income, earing about $700,000
to $1 million annually for the tribe of about 2,500.
think it will be a big economic boom for us,” Camp
said. “We’re going to be able to supplement
members are scheduled to talk at a meeting Saturday about
how to allocate profits, Camp said, and the tribe will
hold a contest to decide the name of the new casino.
said he planned to submit paperwork this week for approval
for extended gaming from the state and the Bureau of Indian
Affairs’ office of gaming management. A state law
passed in November allows tribes to offer extended gaming,
such as blackjack and poker.
other tribes throughout the state are already offering
extended gaming or are planning to do so.
have to build to compete,” Camp said.
tribe hasn’t decided on the size yet, but the goal
is to have more games available and other entertainment
options such as a restaurant within the casino, Camp said.
planned features are a gas station, retail businesses,
and an RV park, Camp said.
said the tribe may start work in 90 to 120 days.
haven’t decided the future of the old casino, Buffalo
Head said. The tribe may keep it open as a bingo hall
or close it.