The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe has returned to gambling in Texas with the soft opening of their Naskila Entertainment center near Livingston, Texas at noon Tuesday. The Tribe plans to hold a Grand Opening for the casino, offering 365 Class II slot machines (electronic bingo) on June 2, 2016 after a 13 year hiatus.
Jo Ann Battise, Tribal Council Chairperson, said in a written statement, “We are very proud to offer a safe, secure entertainment venue to the Big Thicket region,” the tribal leader said. She added, “It is significant for the tribe because this economic development project will provide over 200 quality jobs for East Texans and provide much needed financial support for essential tribal government programs and services,” Battise said.
A job fair was held at the entertainment center on April 19 and 20 and the facility is still accepting applications. The tribe was dealt a crushing blow to their self-determination and local economy over a decade ago when court decisions forced them to close their gaming center, which held the promise of providing about $1 million a month in tribal revenues. On November 3, 2015 the tribe announced that they had received federal approval to resume electronic gaming after receiving a ruling from the National Indian Gaming Commission in October. The ruling also applied to the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo Tribe based in El Paso (Tigua Tribes).
The state has been mostly mum this time around although in December Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an argument in federal court contending that the NGIC opinion, along with one by the U.S. Department of Interior in the Tigua case, were moot stating, “no federal agency interpretation can contradict Congressional intent.” Also on January 12th, William T. Deane and Anne Marie Mackin of the Texas attorney general’s office filed papers to oppose the Tigua Tribe’s request to rescind a 2001 court ordered injunction on gambling, reiterating the office’s previous positions stating that federally recognized law prohibits the tribes from offering even Class II bingo games on their own lands.
A federal judge in that case has asked for more information and has yet to rule. The Tiguas have been at odds with Texas for about two decades and may wait to see how Paxton reacts to the Livingston casino, or what the judge rules before deciding what to do in re-opening their entertainment centers.
With the opening of Naskila Entertainment, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe has given deep east Texas denizens an alternative to border-hopping to gamble or having to make the long trip to Kickapoo Lucky Eagle (the only other land casino in the state) or the drive to Aransas Pass for the only gambling cruise currently running off the state’s shores in International waters.
Naskila Entertainment offers 365 new slot machines and a full service restaurant in the 15,000 square foot facility off U.S. 190 between Woodville and Livingston. There are smoking and non-smoking areas at the alcohol-free facility. The entertainment center is open 24/7.