Omaha Tribe breaks ground for new casino - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Omaha Tribe breaks ground for new casino

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ONAWA, Iowa (KTIV) -

Members of the Omaha Tribe say they've had to fight legal battles to win the land they used to build the CasinOmaha. Now they're fighting nature to bring back the casino after summer flooding shut it down. The tribe broke ground for a new casino Thursday morning.

"We could see from the bluffs the height of the water, with binoculars, we could see how some of the buildings were submerged," Victor Robinson said.

Victor Robinson used to be a general manager for CasinoOmaha.

"And I even came over here to see the extent, it went to the tree line over there, so mainly I thought it would be something we would not be able to recover from," Robinson said.

The building is about a mile away from the river, and during the flood last year, crews and volunteers, made sandbags to protect the building, however rising water seeped through those bags and damaged the interior.

As a result of the damage, many people like Robinson lost their job.

"I'm currently working now, two jobs," Robinson said.

However, there's a silver lining in all of this -- the Omaha Tribe is not only bringing back the casino, they plan to build it bigger and better.

They're also changing the name to BlackBird Bend Casino. Jay Weingarten is one of the architects working to re-design the casino.

"I think the new design will make it more competitive, cause it'll be an updated feel, everything will fresh and new in there."

Robinson hopes he'll be able to work at the new casino. That could happen as early as this December. That's when the first phase of construction is expected to finish, and with that, bring back about 160 jobs. By the time construction finishes next year, there will be two buildings... and then, more jobs.

The temporary casino will be turned into a convention hall, and the new casino will go right next to it. Robinson says, the casino will be not only a financial boost for the nearby community, but a new beginning.

"A lot of the regular customers, I know them just like friends, we're friends and they're always asking, and so, we all have that feeling of expectancy," Robinson said.

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