In the early part of the century the state of Texas may have overstepped its bounds and forced two tribes to close their gaming facilities on sovereign land. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and the Tigua Tribes (aka Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo) have finally had their right to operate affirmed by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). Both tribes had been restored to federal recognition a year prior to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) being passed, and both tribes have jurisdiction over their lands, according to NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri.

Federal courts had ruled earlier that clauses in two federal laws that read,  “All gaming activities which are prohibited by the laws of the State of Texas are hereby prohibited on the reservation and on lands of the tribe,” barred the tribes from offering Class III (Vegas-style) casino games. Efforts to change the federal laws or Texas laws barring Class III gaming were unsuccessful. The tribes then needed an opinion from the NIGC to establish their rights to offer Class II gaming before they could reopen their casinos.

The Tigua Tribe has kept their gaming center open as a concert and entertainment venue along with offering a few sweepstakes-style games, but the El Paso Speaking Rock Entertainment Center has been plagued by litigation from the state. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe closed their Livingston Entertainment Center in 2002.

Currently only one casino exists on land, and one at sea in the state whose gaming industry was laid to waste by the Jack Abramoff Native American lobbying scandal (featured in the 2010 movie, Casino Jack). The two tribes were at the center of the controversial “Texas Menace” series of deceits and manipulations, that in total, eventually led to federal prison time for Abramoff.

Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino is located in Eagle’s Pass near the Rio Bravo and the border with Mexico, about 2 hours from San Antonio. The Aransas Queen Casino has been offering cruises out of Aransas Pass, near Corpus Cristi since May 12.