The state of Texas has reportedly filed a federal lawsuit against the Tigua Indians amid allegations that the tribe’s Speaking Rock Entertainment Center near the city of El Paso violates local gaming laws and the provisions of the Restoration Act of 1987.
According to a report from the El Paso Times newspaper, the federally-recognized tribe has been locked in a legal battle with the state for almost 20 years over its right to operate gaming facilities while a first lawsuit filed in 1999 led to a series of court decisions that forced the Tigua Indians to shutter its Speaking Rock Casino three years later.
The newspaper reported that the tribe subsequently went on to modify its approach several times and currently offers sweepstakes and electronic bingo games at its Speaking Rock Entertainment Center that resemble slot machines. Unhappy with this enterprise, the state filed its latest lawsuit with the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas on Wednesday after earlier being told that its original 1999 legal action had been closed by federal Judge Kathleen Cardone.
After obtaining special permission to inspect the on-reservation Speaking Rock Entertainment Center on May 17, Texas officials reportedly explained that they had discovered that the El Paso County venue was offering paper-based bingo games alongside electronic “card minders” for up to 90 cards as well as pull-tabs and what the state referred to as “thousands of slot machines operating electronic bingo”, all of which allegedly contravene the federal Restoration Act, which gave the tribe federal recognition, and local laws that forbid gambling.
“Both the tribe’s slot machines purporting to offer “electronic bingo” and its paper and card minder-based bingo involve the elements of an illegal lottery in Texas; chance, prize and consideration,” read the lawsuit, which was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The newspaper reported that Texas is eager to end all gaming on tribal lands and that its latest case against the Tigua Indians has been assigned to federal Judge Philip Martinez of El Paso although no hearings have yet been scheduled.