OMAHA, Neb. — An official for an Omaha homeless shelter says a casino proposed nearby in Iowa would be a problem for people the shelter serves.

The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska is moving toward opening a casino in Carter Lake, Iowa, which is about a mile from Open Door Mission, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

Mission President and CEO Candace Gregory said studies show that homeless people are more likely to gamble than the general population. The community should consider the human cost of having the casino located so close to the shelter, she said.

“Open Door Mission has seen an increase in problem gambling since casinos came to the area in 1996,” Gregory said. “The costs of problem gambling have been, and will be, a growing burden on those vulnerable populations who can least afford the monetary and social losses.”

The casino will boost the area’s economy, said Tribe Chairman Larry Wright Jr.

“Both the courts and federal agencies of jurisdiction have affirmed the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska’s position that our tribal citizens have the ability, and more importantly the right, to develop our tribe’s sovereign land in a way that best serves our people and the community,” he said.

The National Indian Gaming Commission ruled in November that the tribe can construct the casino after a decade of lawsuits, appeals and legal reviews.

Council Bluffs City Attorney Richard Wade filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in December that challenged the gaming commission’s decision that the site qualifies as the tribe’s “restored lands.” The complaint also said a new casino would compete with existing state-licensed gambling facilities in Council Bluffs.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com