ONAWA, Iowa (KTIV) - The Omaha tribe of Nebraska met a major milestone Friday, opening a new casino near Onawa, Iowa.
The tribe's former casino, CasinOmaha, was inundated with water during the 2011 Missouri River flood.
The new Blackbird Bend Casino towers over the former CasinOmaha.
"This is an historic day for the Omaha people," Omaha Nation Chairman Clifford Wolf.
Inside, the blinking lights, new furniture, and 120 seat restaurant are calling gamblers far and wide.
Bea Akers of Manilla, Iowa said, "It's nice, really nice."
The Missouri River left behind muck and mold after it flooded CasinOmaha in 2011.
Kurt Schmidt, Blackbird Bend Corporation CEO:"The flood wiped out the old CasinOmaha next door, that flood wiped out the fuel plaza across the street, and the flood wiped out the speedway. "
It also left 200 people out of a job.
Blackbird Bend Corporation CEO Kurt Schmidt said "What that flood didn't and couldn't wipe out was the spirit of the Omaha people." The Omaha tribe wanted to rebuild bigger and better than the old.
National Indian Gaming Association Ernie Stevens, Jr. said, "We've been through some bumps in the road to make this happen."
Including a legal fight.
Kurt Schmidt, Blackbird Bend Corporation CEO:"Financial issues that we needed to overcome to get to today." nats: gambling
The Omaha tribe was dealt a bad hand, but never folded.
"This is a glorious day," said Omaha Nation Vice-Chairman Doran Morris Jr.
The tribe owns a second casino in Walthill, Nebraska. Blackbird Bend has 350 slots and eight table games.
Akers said, "They've got a lot of machines to pick from."
Joan Butler of Soldier, Iowa said "It's better than the other one. It's bigger. I like that they have the cafe back here."
The casinos are the largest source of income for the tribe, paying for everything from health care to housing. Now, Blackbird Casino is putting people back to work. Two-hundred people are employed there, a number that's expected to grow.
"We're going to work today. Whether it's the security guards, the slot techs, the parking attendants, we're going to work today," National Indian Gaming Association Ernie Stevens, Jr.
Named after Chief Blackbird who opened the tribe up to commerce, the Omaha people are banking on the new casino to help push them forward. No matter what happens, they say they've already won.
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