In the United States and the administration President Joseph Biden has reportedly sided with a pair of federally-recognized Texas tribes that have long been seeking permission to legally debut Class II gaming entertainment.
According to a Tuesday report from the non-profit El Paso Matters news organization, the United States Department of Justice under the leadership of Acting Solicitor General Brian Fletcher issued a statement last week that urged the United States Supreme Court to hear a stalled appeal from the Tigua Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, which operate the Speaking Rock Casino and Naskila Gaming facilities respectively.
The two tribes are reportedly barred from legitimately running Class II gaming entertainment owing to a 1987 agreement that saw them gain state recognition at the expense of being barred from offering any games prohibited under Texas law. However, the pair have purportedly long argued that this arrangement, which is also known as the ‘Restoration Act’, was subsequently supplanted by the federal government’s Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 to give them the ability to operate such bingo-like entertainment on their own lands.
The Tigua Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribe reportedly lodged an appeal two years ago in an attempt to overturn a 1994 ruling, which is colloquially known as ‘Ysleta I’, from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and thus rescind the prohibition contained within the ‘Restoration Act’. However, the United States Supreme Court has purportedly long been deaf to this request until asking Fletcher for his considered opinion in February.
Reportedly read Fletcher’s statement…
“In its 1994 decision in ‘Ysleta I’ and in various decisions over the subsequent decades, the court of appeals has erroneously construed the ‘Restoration Act’ to broadly permit application of state standards to tribal gaming operations on Indian lands even where the state regulates forms of gaming rather than prohibiting them outright. Although other Indian tribes may engage in Class II gaming under tribal and federal regulation, only the Tigua Pueblo and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe are subject [under the ‘Ysleta I’ interpretation of the ‘Restoration Act’] to state regulatory measures for on-reservation Class II gaming activities. They are also the only tribes that operate gaming on Indian lands outside of IGRA’s regulatory structure.”
Todd Curry, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso reportedly told the source that the two tribes stand ‘a good chance’ of prevailing should their appeal make it to the nine-member United States Supreme Court. The authority purportedly asserted that the body’s three more liberal members are likely to side with the argument from the Tigua Pueblo and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and be joined in their views by Justice Neil Gorsuch (pictured), who often sides with his more progressive colleagues on aboriginal matters despite being appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017.
Curry reportedly declared…
“Among the other five justices, none truly have strong preferences on indigenous law issues. So, I suspect at least one of them will be convinced by either the Solicitor General or Gorsuch and that is the ball game.”