The federal government has authorized three federally-recognized tribes in Texas to build and operate casinos on reservation lands under the U.S. Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Although reservations have sovereignty over state jurisdiction, Texas has fought fiercely in courts for decades to shut down each of the three casinos.
Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass, TX has survived its legal battles with the state and is currently open and operating slot machines, poker and bingo.
Speaking Rock Casino in El Paso operated from 1993 until it was shut down by the state in 2002. Speaking Rock reopened as an entertainment center with no gambling in 2016.
Naskila Gaming in Livingston, TX is owned by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. The tribe had opened a casino in 2001 that was shut down by the state within its first year. The tribe opened Naskila Gaming in 2016. The State of Texas immediately sued to shut down the casino, but lost the lawsuit in federal court in August 2021. Naskilla is a 30,000 sq-ft gaming casino with 800 slot machines.
Minimum gambling ages are 21 years old for casinos, 21 for poker, 18 for bingo, 21 for horse racing, 18 for the lottery.
Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino
7777 Lucky Eagle Drive
Eagle Pass, Texas 78852
Former Livingston Entertainment Center
333 State Park Road 56
Livingston, Texas 77351
Speaking Rock Casino (Closed 2002)
Speaking Rock Entertainment Center (Opened 2016)
122 South Old Pueblo Road
El Paso, TX 79907
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In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that since federally recognized Indian tribes are considered sovereign entities they could have casinos outside of state jurisdiction.
Texas has three federally-recognized tribes:
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas
Route 3 Box 640
Livingston, TX 77351
Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas
Kickapoo Traditional Council
Post Office Box 972
Eagle Pass, TX 78853
Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo
Post Office Box 17579
El Paso, TX 79917
This 1987 Supreme Court ruling led to the 1987 Registration Act followed by the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Only the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas is authorized under the IGRA to operate a casino.
The Tigua and Alabama-Coushatta tribes were granted federal recognition under the 1987 Indian Restoration Act, but were specifically prohibited by that act from casino operations.
KICKAPOO LUCKY EAGLE CASINO
In 1996 the Kickapoo established the Lucky Eagle Casino in the small town of Eagle Pass about 100 miles south of San Antonio.
In 2008 the Texas Attorney General's office sued over the legality of the casino even though the Kickapoo had federal approval under the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court after the tribe lost in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
SPEAKING ROCK CASINO
In 1992 the Tigua tribe of El Paso petitioned Governor Ann Richards to negotiate a gaming compact for an Indian casino on their reservation, however, the governor rejected their request.
The Tigua felt their rights under federal law were ignored, so in 1993, they opened the Speaking Rock Casino without state approval. That began a ten year battle in the courts over the legality of their casino.
In 2015 a court decision and endorsement by the U.S. Interior Department determined the casino should have never been closed. The tribe plans to reopen with Federal help. In the meantime the casino reopened as the Speaking Rock Entertainment Center in 2016. There is currently no gambling, but the tribe intends to reintroduce Class II gambling in the near future.
In 2001 the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas opened a tribal casino in Livingston, Texas. After nine months of operations it was forced to close after the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the tribe was violating the 1987 Indian Restoration Act which prohibited their operating a casino.
The casino generated $1 million/month for its tribal members during is operation.
In 2015 the tribe received a federal decision similar to the Tigua. The US Interior Department determined their casino should have never been closed and could now reopen with Class II electronic gambling. In May 2016 the tribe reopened their casino and bingo hall as the Naskila Gaming.
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September 10, 2021
The U.S. Justice Department is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the State of Texas cases against the Tigua Indians of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (El Paso) and the Alabama-Coushatta of East Texas (Livingston). The acting solicitor general has filed a brief urging the high court review in its next session beginning next month.
The State of Texas has continually filed lawsuits over the past 28 years to stop the two tribes from operating Class II gaming under the U.S. Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. The Texas court rulings have favored the State, and now the Justice Department is challenging those decisions.
The court brief reads:
"In its 1994 decision in Ysleta I - and in various decisions over the subsequent decades, including the decision below - 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."
- U.S. Justice Department
The third Texas Tribe, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, operates the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel in Eagle Pass, Texas. This tribe was not included in the Restoration Act of 1987 and is not included in this court case.
September 5, 2021
Choctaw Casinos & Resorts has signed a 25-year partnership with the Texas Rangers for the naming rights to Globe Life Park in Arlington. Globe Life Park was the home stadium of the Rangers from 1994-2019. The stadium is now named 'Choctaw Stadium'.
The new deal expands the partnership between Choctaw Casinos & Resorts and the Texas baseball team that began in 2010. Choctaw is the 'official casino' of the Rangers with branding at Globe Life Field, the current home of the Rangers located across the street.
"Today's naming rights announcement for Globe Life Park further extends Choctaw's presence in the Arlington Entertainment District, which also includes Globe Life Field and Texas Live!"
- Texas Rangers Chairman Ray Davis
July 3, 2021
What happened to the Texas commercial casino legislation promoted by Sheldon Adelson and Las Vegas Sands with dozens of lobbyists and thousands of TV ads? The Texas House was considering a joint resolution HJR 133 to let Texas voters approve or reject a November ballot measure to authorize commercial casinos in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.
The simply answer is the House committees stalled the legislation and prevented a floor vote before the legislature adjourned for the year. This killed both the casino bill and a sports betting bill for the time being. Both issues may return in the next legislative session.
May 17, 2021
Last week the U.S. House of representatives passed a bill to allow two Texas tribes to operate Class II casinos on their reservation land under the U.S. Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Class II gaming refers to e-bingo slot machines where players win jackpots from other players rather than from the house.
The two tribes supported by the federal bill are the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe in Livingston, Texas and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso. Both tribes have fought the State of Texas in court for decades to win the right to operate Class II casinos.
Under the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) all federally-recognized tribes in the United States can operate Class II casinos without state approval if the games are legal within the state. Bingo is legal in Texas and that is why the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe has operated e-bingo gambling at its Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass since 1996.
Casino gambling is a different situation for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. Both are federally recognized, however, in 1987 both tribes agreed to prohibit all gambling under the Indian Tribes of Texas Restoration Act. A year later in 1988 the federal government enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), and ever since the State of Texas has fought to prevent the two tribes from opening Class II casinos under the federal law.
The U.S. House bill bypasses state jurisdiction and allows the two tribes to operate Class II casinos on their lands in accordance with the IGRA. These are the only two tribes in the nation that have been prevented from casinos under the federal law.
The House bill now goes to the Senate where it is expected to face a fierce fight from Texas Sen. John Cornyn. The senator has repeatedly expressed his strong opposition to the bill.
April 25, 2021
The Texas House is considering a joint resolution HJR 133 that would let voters decide in November whether or not to allow commercial casinos in the state. The bill proposes a limit of four destination casinos to be built in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.
The bill is based on a proposal by Las Vegas Sands, which is promoting the plan with TV ads in the four casino markets specified in the bill.
Texas tribes oppose this bill. A spokesperson for the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas explained:
"If casino gambling is allowed in San Antonio under HJR 133, the tribes gambling community would suffer an enormous economic hit. Players aren't going to drive two and half hours to play the same games they can play much closer to home."
- Jennifer Hughes, Kickapoo Tribe
The Texas Senate has not scheduled a hearing on the joint resolution SJR 49 at this time.
April 12, 2021
U.S. House Bill 2208 supports Indian gaming by the Tigua Indians of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. The Tigua Indians operate Speaking Rock Entertainment Center in El Paso which was previously an Indian gaming casino until it was closed by the state in 2002. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas operate Naskila Gaming in Livingston which operates Class II slot machines. Both locations have been approved for Indian gaming by the federal government, however, Texas is fighting in court to shut down all casino gambling.
H.R. Bill 2208 is named the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Act. The bill will ensure the Tigua Indians and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe are governed by the U.S. Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). This is the case with the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, which operate the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass. The bill would allow Class II gaming for both tribes.
March 11, 2021
A proposed bill in the Texas legislature would allow four casino resorts to be open in Texas the major metro areas Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. The plan is derived from a proposal by Las Vegas Sands See article.
For this bill to become law, it must pass both houses of the legislature by a two-thirds vote followed by a ballot referendum approved by Texas voters.
December 14, 2020
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his Las Vegas Sands company see Texas as a super huge opportunity for future growth of Sands Casinos. The company is pushing for casino legalization in the upcoming legislative session.
A Sands spokesman told the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association last week:
"Texas is a worldwide destination and one of the top potential markets in the entire world.
"Texas is considered the biggest plum still waiting to be out there in the history of hospitality and gaming."
Sands proposes a limited number of destination resorts near large Texas cities rather than state-wide gambling.
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have been among the top donators to the Texas Republican Party and donated $4.5 million last September to the Republican State Leadership Committee.
May 12, 2019
A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would protect the Indian gaming rights of two Texas tribes that have long been denied by the state's attorney general.
The bill is HR 759 titled "Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Act of 2019". Ref congress.gov
Texas is home to three federally-recognized Native American tribes. All three have been approved by the U.S. Department of Interior to conduct Indian gaming on their lands under the Indian Gaming Regulatory.
However, the Texas attorney general has spent years and millions of dollars fighting to prevent gaming by two tribes while allowing it for the third tribe. The Texas AG has shut down these Indian casinos:
Speaking Rock Casino operated by the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
Naskila Gaming operated by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas
Only the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino continues to operate without state interference. The casino is owned by the Traditional Kickapoo Tribe of Texas in Eagle Pass.
Bill HR 759 was introduced by U.S. Rep Brian Babin and do-sponsored by 24 Republicans and Democrats.
SUPPORT THIS BILL
Visit the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe's special website: Support the AC Tribe.
March 06, 2019
Many Texas politicians believe the state is losing millions of dollars in potential tax revenues from casino gambling as neighboring states draw Texans into their casinos. Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico and soon Arkansas all have full-scale gambling.
Texas has prohibited commercial casinos. There is only one casino in the state, the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle which is Native American and offers only electronic gaming machines.
This week State Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) introduced House Bill 3043 to legalize casino gambling and authorize up to twelve casino resorts.
The bill requires local elections for voter approval before a casino could be built.
"We need to come up with taxing revenue that doesn't come from raising folks' property taxes," Gutierrez said.
The odds of Bill 3043 becoming law are not good. If passed, Governor Greg Abbott (R) would likely veto it. The Governor has publicly opposed casino legislation.
November 12, 2014
A new bill has been introduced to Texas state legislature. The bill HJR 47 would create a state gaming commission that would oversee the development of future casinos. The proposed bill would also only allow for casinos to be built at established race tracks and in areas with a population over 675,000.
State Rep carol Alvarado is sponsoring the measure.
Possible casino locations would be in Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Houston, and El Paso.
If approved, the proposed bill will also protect Native America tribes. The tribes have opposed expanding gaming in the pass due to concerns of it causing a decline in business at Eagle Pass Casino. This is currently the only casino in the state.
Groups that are in support of the measure believe that it would help the struggling horse racing industry. They also believe that opening casinos in Texas would stop gamblers from spending their money in other states. Money earned from the casinos would go to fund projects in Texas.
Religious conservative groups oppose the bill. Stating that expanded gaming is not what the people want. Similar gaming bills have been presented before, and have been rejected.
February 15, 2011
The traditionally conservative state of Texas is debating over gaming issues. States where gaming has been introduced have seen an increase of tax revenues. Amounting in the millions of dollars. Texas lawmakers have started looking at the possibility of allowing for state casinos.
Lawmakers have been discussing the possibility. If gaming was allowed the state of Texas would be able to collect tax revenues. As well as create jobs. The increase of job creation and the increase of money to the state was something that many thought would help the gaming law approval.
However, according to State Rep, Larry Taylor, the votes are not there. It is believed that more discussion will need to take place. More than likely legalizing casinos will not happen this session. Gaming addiction, and elevated crime levels are the main reasons why some lawmakers want to keep gaming legal.
Lobbyist are pushing for both sides of gaming legislation. Each group with a different idea of how to deal with gambling legislation.
January 08, 2011
Reports have shown that the State of Texas is facing a multimillion dollar debt. Some estimates report the debt to be around $20 billion. While many of the state lawmakers promise to not raise taxes, they will start looking at other ways to raise funds. Recently the Star-Telegram newspaper conducted a survey. Amongst other state issues, it showed in favor of gambling expansion to help with state budget issues.
819 people took the survey. Of those people, 45% were in favor. The support is for legalized casinos at racetracks that would operate slot machines. This would include Grand Prairie's Lone Star Park. It would also allow for casinos in urban areas, such as the Metroplex.
Over all, the people polled reported that they were much more in favor of raising revenue for the state instead of budget cuts. Advocates for gambling tried and failed in 2009 to pass legislation to allow for gaming expansion. However with the new poll results, there is a new way for them to pass laws by helping raise money for the state.
December 31, 2010
Next month the Texas Gaming Association will be introducing a new gaming expansion bill. This is being done in effort to compensate for state budget deficit. The deficit is estimated to be around $20 million. Law makers see the new bill as a way to increase revenues for the state.
When the bill is presented, it will ask for a constitutional amendment. This amendment will allow for casino resorts to be built throughout the state.
In previous years, similar bills have been presented to state voters. Each time it was rejected. Law makers are hopeful for approval. If passed, it will prevent some budget cuts.
Return to Texas Casinos.
October 08, 2010
According to a recent poll, Texans may be in support of legalized gambling. The recent KHOU-Belo Texas Poll showed 54% favor for gaming to help the state's government.
People who answered the poll were more in favor of gaming revenues to help pay for state costs then raising taxes. Most of the people polled that were in favor, supported limited video gaming machines and slot machines at race tracks.
The idea of a state income tax or rising sales tax to help the state budget was highly opposed by the participants.
May 24, 2010
Legalizing gambling in Texas likely is in favor by Texans. A telephone poll was conducted to research the opinions of voters. 500 people were polled. According to a new Rasmussen telephone survey 57% of those surveyed like the idea. 33% of the voters are against it. The remaining 10% of those surveyed are undecided.
The survey was conducted on May 13, 2010. It was operated by Rasmussen Reports. The field work for the survey was conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. The sampling error margin is +/- 4.5%. The confidence level was 95%.
September 29, 2009
DALLAS - A subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation has filed a $27 million bid to buy Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie. The track has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since March.
Court documents reveal the tribe is asking the court to schedule an auction for October 7. If enacted, a hearing to approve the auction's results could happen in mid-October
The Chickasaw would then need approval from the Texas Racing Commission for a racing license. Texas law requires the majority ownership of a racing license be held by Texas residents, so it is unclear how the majority ownership issue will be handled.
Some gambling insiders say the Chickasaw are more interested in gaming than horse racing. Jack Pratt of the Texas Gaming Association, a lobbying group, said "They certainly didn't buy it to race the ponies. He says the tribe is making its bid "on the basis that they'll get gaming."
The Chickasaw tribe has built its business on casinos, not horse tracks.
They own 15 gaming facilities including WinStar World Casino, the fifth-largest casino in the world, located just north of the Texas border in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
To legalize gaming, Texas legislators must first pass a gaming measure which voters would have to approve by passing a constitutional amendment. The soonest that could happen is 2011.
May 18, 2009
AUSTIN - Efforts to legalize casino gambling in Texas have failed in this year's legislative session. State Rep. Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin said the fight is over. Kuempel is the author of the bill to amend the state constitution to let voters decide whether Texas should allow casinos.
Kuempel said lawmakers were more likely to approve gambling to fill the $9 billion budget void when their only other alternative was to raise taxes, so when $15 billion in federal economic stimulus money came from Washington, the bill sank.
"The stimulus package took some of the sting out of the money crunch we were in this session," Kuempel said.
The failed bill was particularly tough on the Tiguas, whose Speaking Rock Casino was closed by court order in 2001. State Rep. Norma Chávez had authored an earlier bill to reopen the casino but political obstacles seemed too much to overcome this year.
Any measure to amend the constitution requires 100 votes of the 150 House legislators, and casino gambling may be too controversial to ever pass successfully.
April 14, 2009
AUSTIN - The first House committee hearing on multiple casino gambling bills convened today amid a packed room at the Capitol.
"If we're going to do this, let's do it on such a scale that we get the best bang, the best value, for Texas dollars," said Democratic Rep. Jose Menendez of San Antonio. Menendez and other lawmakers proposed a major resort casino plan to allow slot machines at race tracks and on Native American lands.
Sheldon G. Adelson, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., was the first witness to testify before the House Licensing and Administration Procedures Committee regarding several gaming bills being considered by the Legislature.
Adelson supports a comprehensive bill backed by the Texas Gaming Association that would create 12 Las Vegas-style resort casinos, allow slot machines at horse and dog tracks, and return casino gaming to Indian reservations
"Not all casinos are created equal, destination resort is the way to go,"
said Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Adelson told legislators that Texas can be a prime market for large casino resorts that attract convention business with entertainment, restaurants, and shopping. He illustrated his points with large photos of his company's properties including the Venetian and the Palazzo in Las Vegas.
His company and others would be interested in bidding for casino licenses in Texas and said construction money would be available despite the economy.
The Tigua tribe of El Paso and the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Livingston are both looking to reopen casinos that the state closed in 2002 after a federal court decision. The tribes are supporting their own legislation to reopen their casinos, and they also want to be included in any major bill that includes legalization of their casinos.
House gambling bills in this session include HB1724, HJR70, HB3239, HJR99, HB3235, HB4018.
February 25, 2009
AUSTIN - The influential House Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts filed a new bill Tuesday to legalize 12 destination casinos, reopening of two Texas Indian casinos, and slot machines at racetracks. The tax revenues generated from the bill would allocate $1 billion a year to college scholarships for high-performing students and an additional billion to state transportation projects.
The bill was filed by a strong, bipartisan team of Pitts, Rep. Jose Menendez, Sen. John Carona and Sen. Rodney Ellis. It would amend the state constitution and require a two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate followed by a ballot measure for approval by Texas voters.
Recent surveys indicate the public would overwhelmingly vote for it. For instance, the Texas Gaming Association poll shows 68 percent of Texans would vote FOR a constitutional amendment that allows a "limited number of destination resort casinos."
February 24, 2009
GALVESTON - This Texas island city is fighting another hurricane, but this time it is an economic storm. Since hurricane Ike, the town has declined in population by a third down to 45,000. Some city leaders believe the only hope for its economy by be legalized casinos to attract tourists.
"Galveston has to put everything on the table as an answer for an economic recovery," said Allen Flores, president of the merchants association in the historic downtown Strand district. "We're dependent on tourism now more than ever."
Gambling is presently banned in Texas, but several casino-related bills are before the Texas legislature. They are opposed by social conservative groups and Gov. Rick Perry. If any of the bills are enacted by the legislature, the voters of Texas would have final approval.
Supporters point to examples in other Gulf Coast states. Both Mississippi and Louisiana have fiscal budgets that benefit from gaming revenues.
February 20, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas - A legislative bill was filed Tuesday to allow the Tigua tribe in El Paso and the Alabama-Coushatta tribe in Livingston to reopen their casinos. The bill was filed by Rep. Norma Chavez, an El Paso Democrat, to exempt the tribes from prosecution for limited casino gambling. It is the Indian gambling defense to prosecution bill HB 1308.
The Alabama-Coushatta casino and the Speaking Rock Casino were closed in 2002 by court orders. The tribes say they need restoration of their casino revenues for health care, education and other tribal necessities. The Speaking Rock Casino operated from 1993-2001 producing $60 million annually for the Tiguas. The Alabama-Coushatta casino operated for only nine generating $1 million per month for its tribe.
Rep. Chavez filed similar legislation two years ago, but that bill died on a 66-66 tie vote in the House.
05.18.2016 Bingo Hall in East Texas Reopens
04.16.2016 Naskila Entertainment to Hold Job Fair
11.12.2014 Texas Expanded Gaming Bill Introduced
01.08.2011 Poll Results: Texans in favor of gambling
05.24.2010 Texans favor legalized casinos 57%-33%
05.18.2009 Casino gambling bill is dead
04.04.2009 Casino backers have grand plans for Texas
02.24.2009 Galveston eyes casinos to stay afloat
02.20.2009 Bill would legalize Texas Indian casinos
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