U.S. federal court rules Texas tribe can legally operate electronic bingo gaming center
nearly five years of litigation, fighting for the right to keep its electronic bingo game center open, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Texas may offer electronic bingo games at their facility between Woodville and Livingston, Texas.
In the judgment of August 31 U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin says under the Tribe Restoration Act 1987 she can legally operate her Naskila Gaming electronic bingo center., reports 12 News.
The news is considered important by the tribe, who say hundreds of people are currently employed in connection with the center, which has been under pressure from a possible shutdown by the state of Texas for some time now.
“This decision affirms that we have the legal right to support our tribe by operating Naskila Gaming,” said Nita Battise, president of the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of the Texas Tribal Council.. “This is not only a victory for the citizens of our tribe, but also for the hundreds of families who depend on Naskila Gaming for their livelihood and for the economic health of East Texas.”
The United States District Court in Beaumont found that the operation of the gaming facility is permitted under the Tribal Restoration Act 1987. The bingo center was opened in May 2016, after in 2015 the Indian National Gaming Commission (“NIGC”) approved the Tribe’s Class II Bingo Games Ordinance and declared the tribe eligible. gambling under the Indian Gaming Regulation Act (“IGRA”)..
Although having opened on the basis of this approval, a month later, June 2016, the state of Texas filed a complaint for its closure. Since then, an ongoing legal battle concerning the authorization to operate the facility has ensured. The tribe has claimed for the past five years that the NIGC’s decision to approve the Tribe Gaming Ordinance superseded a 1994 ruling that the tribe’s gambling right was not covered by the IGRA.
Texans speak out in favor of Naskila Gaming! 25,000 letters were sent to @GregAbbott_TX and @JohnCornyn, urging them to save 700 jobs in Naskila and support the East Texas economy. #txlege #prosperity https://t.co/HSb4ToMeJc via @Bluebonnet New
– Support the AC tribe (@SupportACTribe) August 6, 2021
What’s more, the tribe claimed that, although it was not covered by the IGRA, the game offered at the bingo center was permitted under the Restoration Act. It was under this law that the district court found the tribe authorized to offer games that are not already prohibited by state law.
Naskila Gaming is the second largest employer in Polk County, with approximately 700 jobs directly or indirectly related to it. The center also brings in more than $ 170 million in annual economic stimulus. Over 25,000 letters of support for Naskila Gaming have been sent by members of the public over the past year to elected officials across the state.