State Officials Want To Shut Down Indian Casino-Style Gambling In East Texas
Two months ago, the Alabama-Coushatta tribe opened a casino-like gambling facility just south of Livingston on its 10,000-acre reservation. Now, court documents filed in Lufkin's federal court show that state officials are making a move to shut the operation down.
The alcohol-free entertainment establishment opened in May and is open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. While the games offered have all of the bells and whistles generally associated with Las Vegas-style gaming, they are, in reality, all bingo-themed games, which are allowed by Texas law. In all, 350 machines light up the large facility.
Naskila Entertainment spokesman, Chuck McDonald, says that, so far the operation has been very successful for the tribe.
“Things have been going good, pretty low key,” he told the Star-Telegram. “We haven’t done much advertising, so it has mostly been word of mouth from the immediate area. They have had good crowds, especially on the weekends. It has been extremely encouraging to the tribe.”
In addition to the gaming area, the site is also home to a new Timbers Grille restaurant.
While Texas state officials won't comment on the pending litigation, the tribe and the State are no strangers to each other when it comes to gambling disagreements.
In 2002. a casino operated by the tribe in East Texas was shut down when the state successfully argued that Texas law over-rules national Indian law.
This most recent litigation is not entirely unexpected by the tribe. In fact, they are hoping that the court review will allow for a renewed dialogue regarding gambling on Indian reservations in Texas.
The tribe would like the opportunity to prove in court that last year’s ruling by top Indian officials gives them the legal footing to run Class II gaming — generally bingo and electronic versions of bingo — under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
However, Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, is not optimistic that the tribe will succeed.
He tells the Star-Telegram, “State officials have always been reluctant to allow gaming in the state because they are so deeply concerned about our morals.
For now, no one has issued a motion for the casino to cease operations and the litigation is expected to draw on for a number of months. So, if this is your style of gaming, you should have time to check it out.
The Alabama-Coushatta tribe says that they're ready for their day in court.
“We are optimistic,” Chuck McDonald said. “Let’s take this litigation all the way through.”