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. Naskilla is a 30,000 sq-ft gaming casino with 800 slot machines.
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
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.
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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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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.
03.28.2013 Texas's Only casino Lucky Eagle Succeeds in Helping Tribe
01.24.2013 Possible Texas Gaming Expansion
12.31.2010 New gaming expansion law to be introduced next month
10.08.2010 54 percent of surveyed voters support legalized casino
05.24.2010 Texans favor legalized casinos 57%-33%
04.27.2010 Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino installing new games
10.19.2009 Grand Prairie horse track back on the auction block
09.29.2009 Chickasaws bid $27 million for bankrupt Grand Prairie horse track
08.10.2009 Tiguas dispute court's ruling to shut down slots and sweepstakes
05.18.2009 Casino gambling bill is dead
03.30.2009 Tigua asking lawmakers to reopen Speaking Rock Casino
02.25.2009 Major casino bill introduced in Texas legislature
02.24.2009 Galveston eyes casinos to stay afloat
02.20.2009 Bill would legalize Texas Indian casinos
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