Only a week after a federal judge made a ruling against the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, imposing a ban on the latter to offer its gambling operations, a bill that would allow the tribe to keep its electronic bingo hall in operation was rolled out by US Rep. Brian Babin.
The proposed piece of legislation was co-sponsored by Mr. Babin and US representatives from the states of Arizona, California and Alaska. As mentioned above, it is aimed to address the ongoing conflict between federal and state laws by making it clear that the tribe has the right to keep its popular bingo hall situated east of Woodville under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.
The co-sponsor of the newly-filed piece of legislation Rep. Babin shared his surprise by the judge’s ruling, warning that it had put hundreds of jobs in danger. He further explained that his bill would make sure that Alabama-Coushatta tribe would be given the same treatment as the other tribal nations get from the US federal government under the existing Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Last week, judge Keith Giblin ruled against the facility, saying that the tribe is violating the existing state gaming legislation. The electronic bingo hall must cease operations under the US Magistrate’s ruling, which is being appealed by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe at the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
For the time being, the facility which works 24/7 remains open.
Naskila Gaming Bingo Hall under Fire
Naskila Gaming, the bingo facility which became the apple of discord, has been operated by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe since May 2016. Th bingo hall featured over 360 electronic bingo games and was opened after the tribe got the green light from the competent federal regulatory agency National Indian Gaming Commission.
The operation of the gaming center was not at all trouble-free. Only three months after the venue opened doors, a petition against it was filed to a federal court by the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The latter called for the court to force the tribe to close its venue, saying that it violated the federal 1987 Indian Restoration Act.
Local Indian tribes were given a special status under federal law, but unfortunately for them, they were not allowed to offer gambling services on their lands.
At the time when judge Keith Giblin’s ruling was announced, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe challenged it, reminding that similar electronic bingo services were offered by the Traditional Kickapoo Tribe of Texas for more than 20 years now, without any objection from the state. According to the tribe’s statement no justification for a federal regulatory system which permits an Indian tribe to offer gaming and bans another tribe from doing the same exists for the time being.
According to the Tribal Chairperson of the tribe, Jo Ann Battise, reminded that the electronic bingo hall of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe generates approximately $17 million in annual payroll and benefits for 330 employees.