The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe Of Texas was reportedly in court last week to again defend its right to offer Class II gaming at its Naskila Gaming venue located some 80 miles northeast of the city of Houston.
According to a report from the Associated Press news service cited by The Washington Post newspaper, Thursday saw Texas state officials ask a federal court in Beaumont to hold the tribe in contempt for allegedly breaking a 2002 injunction that forced the closure of Naskila Gaming’s Class III predecessor.
“The machines operated at Naskila [Gaming] are not a permissible form of “bingo” and as a result still cannot be operated without state oversight,” Anne Marie Mackin from the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told the Associated Press.
However, attorneys for the federally-recognized tribe reportedly argued that the 15,000 sq ft Polk County operation is legal under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act as this 1988 legislation handed regulatory authority for Class II gaming facilities on Native American lands to the three-member National Indian Gaming Commission. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe Of Texas also alleged that the Livingston venue’s 365 electronic bingo machines were not covered under the 2002 injunction as this halted only Class III gaming, which covers slots as well as games such as blackjack and poker.
“We are in the fight for our future,” Carlos Bullock, a spokesperson for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe Of Texas, told the Associated Press. “This is something, a revenue stream that can help the tribe immensely. When we closed in 2002, we lost 300 jobs. That was a difficult time for the tribe and tribal members; people who had begun relying on that income. That’s what makes it so important we do everything legally and correctly because we can’t afford to lose those jobs again.”
Texas law prohibits most forms of gambling although the state’s other federally-recognized tribe, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe Of Texas, operates the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel near the southern state’s international border with Mexico and the 1,200-member Alabama-Coushatta Tribe Of Texas has long argued that it should be afforded the same privileges.
“A lot of the thinking of the right in Texas originates in the more conservative religious denominations and that is certainly true of the Texas Tea Party, for whom social, cultural [and] moral issues are primary,” Robert Biles, a political science professor at Sam Houston State University, told the Associated Press.
The Associated Press reported that a 2013 study for the Texas Association Of Business showed that Texans were already spending around $3 billion every year to gamble elsewhere including in neighboring states with casinos such as Louisiana and Oklahoma. As such, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board recently noted that Houston-area residents accounted for a large percentage of players at gambling venues around the city of Lake Charles and that these businesses “would be hurt by legalized gambling in Texas”.
“Obviously, if [these is] another option that is closer geographically to folks, they will investigate it,” Wayne Duty, Executive Director for the Louisiana Casino Association, told the Associated Press. “What we saw in northwest Louisiana when the Native American [Oklahoma] casinos came online, we lost 17% of our gross revenues and, frankly, we never recovered that.”