From Enterprise Staff
The number of civic and business groups stating formal support for Naskila Gaming recently surpassed 80 in a demonstration of building momentum for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas’ electronic bingo facility.
The growing support for Naskila Gaming is the latest positive development for supporters of the facility, which is responsible for 700 jobs in East Texas. A federal judge in Beaumont recently ruled that the tribe can legally continue to operate Naskila Gaming, despite the state’s efforts to close the facility. Also, the U.S. House passed legislation earlier this year that would effectively protect Naskila Gaming from the state’s push to shut it down.
“Our supporters in the community continue to actively advocate in support of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and the hundreds of Texans who work at Naskila Gaming,” Nita Battise, Chairperson of the Tribal Council of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, said. “We are profoundly grateful to the organizations and elected bodies that have publicly stated their support for keeping Naskila Gaming open. They understand that Naskila Gaming is critically important to the future of our tribe and the economic health of East Texas.”
The community support is broad-based and bipartisan. The local Republican Party in seven Texas counties and the local Democratic Party in four Texas counties have passed resolutions in support of keeping Naskila open. Support also comes from the leadership of 21 counties, 12 cities and 9 chambers of commerce, as well as numerous businesses and other groups.
“Our supporters know how much Naskila Gaming means to the people and the economy of East Texas,” Battise said. “We appreciate their support and believe they have a major impact as we work to protect these jobs and secure a better future for our tribe.”
The growth of community support is one of several positive developments in recent months. In addition:
In August, Federal Magistrate Judge Giblin found that the Restoration Act of 1987 allows the Tribe to offer gaming that is not otherwise prohibited under Texas law and, further, the Restoration Act precludes Texas from exercising civil or criminal regulatory jurisdiction. Because bingo is regulated, not prohibited, in Texas, Judge Giblin ruled that the electric bingo at Naskila is legal under the Restoration Act and not subject to the laws of Texas. For years, the State of Texas has argued that the Tribe cannot legally offer electronic bingo. The state is likely to appeal Judge Giblin’s decision.
In May, the U.S. House of Representatives gave overwhelming bipartisan passage to H.R. 2208, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Fair Opportunity Act. The legislation would effectively end the state’s efforts to close Naskila Gaming by ensuring that the tribe is allowed to offer electronic bingo under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The U.S. Senate has not yet acted on the legislation.
“We have had some significant victories this year, but much more work remains,” Battise said. “We thank our supporters for sticking with us and we encourage them to stay engaged on behalf of the hundreds of families depending on Naskila Gaming for their livelihood. Texans need to continue to reach elected officials and express support for Naskila Gaming.”
Naskila Gaming is the second-largest employer in Polk County. Some 700 jobs are tied directly or indirectly to Naskila Gaming, as well as over $170 million in annual economic stimulus, making its long-term stability essential to the economic future of East Texas.