Senator Sen. Jose Rodríguez introduced a bill in the senate and a group of legislators introduced another into the house, that if passed, would ensure that the gaming rights of all tribes get due recognition. These bill were passed after one tribe faced the federal court over contempt sanctions which were a result of a contested sweepstakes operation.
Now lawmakers have introduced bills SJR 51 and HJR 129 that will amend the constitution of Texas and allow both the Tigua Tribe and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe to run gaming operations on their reservations. The bills would give these two tribes the same recognition that the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas (formerly Texas Band of Traditional Kickapoo) Casinos currently enjoys with their Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass, texas.
In the past, the Tigua Tribe and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe were not allowed to run casinos on their reservations as they were required to follow state law outlawing casinos after they gained federal recognition. The tribes were forced to shutdown their casino after the state sent them a litigation notice. The Tiguas tribe got into trouble after it defied the court order and offered a “sweepstakes” operation that it contends is legal under current law.
In a statement, Sen. Jose RodrÃguez (D) said “We are proposing a constitutional amendment that will bring equal treatment, fairness and equity to our three Texas tribes. We already have gaming in Texas but for only one tribe, and that’s not right.”
The approval of these new bills will allow both tribes to restart casino operations and provide their tribe with more job opportunities and additional revenue which is derived from the casino operation. Tribal leaders welcomed the news and are in the process of putting together a plan for their casino relaunch.
Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramhoff is documented as playing both ends against the middle in the tribes’ loss of casino gaming rights. In 2002, after Abramoff worked to close the casino of the Tigua tribe, he persuaded the tribe to hire him to lobby Congress to reopen the casino. In 2006 Abramoff pleaded guilty to three felony counts; conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion, coming out of his lobbying activities on behalf and against Native American tribes. He reported to federal prison in November 2006.