Prairie Flower Casino marks one year in operation

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CARTER LAKE, Iowa (WOWT) -- It’s been one year since the Ponca Tribe’s Prairie Flower Casino opened its doors in Carter Lake, and casino officials say it has attracted nearly 400,000 visitors to the city of 3,700.

Priarie Flower Casino marks one year in Carter Lake

Prairie Flower backers say they want to be a part of the Carter Lake community and, so far, have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the city’s budget.

Ponca Tribe of NebraskaChairman Larry Wright Jr. said: “$775,000 — three-quarters-of-a-million-dollars — to help with fire first responders, police, just to make sure our people are protected, safe and our property is protected.”

In its first year, Prairie Flower Casino has helped support tribal services such as health care, cultural preservation and social services.

Carter Lake Mayor Ron Cumberledge sees the benefit for the community. He said, “We’ve added police cruisers, we’ve added staff to the police department, we’ve added a fire vehicle, we’ve added more training, we brought more resources to the table for everybody involved in this community.”

Ponca tribal officials say the wheels here won’t stop spinning and they plan to grow. Right now there are thoughts of bringing in sports betting, “and that’s something that, we’re listening to our guests,” Wright said, “and as we move forward and look at next phases, that’s something that we will continue to evaluate to make sure we bring the best possible experience to our people.”

Carter Lake has plans to build a community center and they think funds from the casino will help pay the bills. The more than 15,000 square foot community center would include space for a library, fitness and recreation facilities and a senior center.

The mayor said, “We’ve had plans in the makings for 20 years of a community center and now these funds and resources can bring it to life.”

Jonesy's Taco House is jumping. The folks who work there say Prairie Flower is helping to increase their Business.

Lori McKim said, “I believe it has. I think we get a few people in from there we get people in asking for directions and that makes them stay so I guess it has helped.”

Lori is hoping the wheels continue to spin at Prairie Flower Casino. She tells us when some of the winners come to eat, she always gets bigger tips.

The casino employs 100 people and they hope to hire even more. People who live in Carter Lake will vote on the community center plan on November 5th.

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