Celebrating three years with a casino, Carter Lake officials says city sees economic boost

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Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:52 PM CDT
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CARTER LAKE, Iowa (WOWT) - Carter Lake bet on Prairie Flower Casino and the bet paid off. The casino is celebrating its third anniversary that will last over the weekend and into Monday.

Carter Lake city officials say the success of the casino also means success for Carter Lake.

There were critics of bringing a casino to Carter Lake. Prairie Flower Casino officials say in three years more than 800,000 visits have been made to the casino and the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska is handing over more than $700,000 a year to Carter Lake.

“The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska since opening Prairie Flower Casino has committed to the community of Carter Lake. Over $700,000 voluntarily per year to the city, those funds which now exceed over $2.3 million since opening Prairie Flower Casino go to support police fire infrastructure, general city improvements,” said Jimmy Centers, Prairie Flower Casino Spokesperson.

With that money, Carter Lake was able to add three new police cruisers and two full-time officers to the police department. Prairie Flower also helped with the city’s infrastructure around the casino.

“That end of town had a stormwater issue that kind of detoured most people from developing. Ponca took it upon themselves to self-fund that issue, they’re currently in the process of permitting a stormwater project to get this water out of town to the river, something we just don’t have,” said Mayor Ron Cumberledge.

Carter Lake Mayor Ron Cumberledge says the city has broken ground on a new community center and money from the casino also helped move that project off the shelf.

“We had a community center on the plans for 20 years, we just never could find the resources or the funding to go through with it. We have pledged the last three years of this casino money to erect this new community center,” said Cumberledge.

The community center will include a full-size gym, a wellness center, and a brand new senior center.

Bonnie Freeman is on the city’s library board, she says the city’s library will also get a boost from the construction of the community center.

“They’re going to connect the community center to the library and so we’ll all be one facility then we’ll have to rearrange some doors but it will be updated,” said Freeman.

Proceeds from the casino also help to make life better for members of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.

“Ponca Tribe of Nebraska will be opening very soon a brand new state-of-the-art Lincoln health care clinic that is built in part by proceeds from the Prairie Flower Casino. Since opening, Prairie Flower Casino has donated $28 million back to the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska for those critical services,” said Centers.

Mayor Cumberledge says so far, the casino has been a win-win and he’s hoping Prairie Flower will give bloom to more business in Carter Lake.

“They bring $300,000 visitors a year, absolutely they make that area a lot more attractive to everybody involved.”

Mayor Cumberledge says the price tag for the town’s new community center is around $4 million.

“We have 500 hotel rooms in town and there’s another hotel coming online to partner up with the Praire Flower Casino so we’re hoping to bring some more of that entertainment value into town.”

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