The Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo owns and operates the Speaking Rock Entertainment Center in El Paso, Texas. Photo: SpeakingRock

Bill affirms Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and Tigua Tribe gaming rights

A bill introduced in the U.S. Congress last week affirms that the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, also known as the Tigua Tribe, can engage in gaming on their homelands.

The tribes have been hindered by a provision in existing law that subjects them to the jurisdiction of the state of Texas. H.R.4985, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Settlement Act, confirms that both can follow the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The bill was introduced on February 8 by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), whose district includes the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe. A day prior, a federal magistrate ruled that the tribe's Naskila Gaming facility was violating Texas law.

The tribe is taking the case to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in order to keep the facility, which offers Class II games like bingo and electronic versions of bingo, up and running. Passage of H.R.4985 would benefit the tribe with the lawsuit.

The bill has three co-sponsors at this point, all of them Republicans. It has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over Indian issues in Congress.

During the last session of Congress, Babin co-sponsored a bill to restore the tribe's gaming rights. In exchange, the tribe would have dropped a $270 million land claim against the United States.

H.R.4985 notably does not require the tribe, or the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, to do anything. instead, it's a clean fix that addresses the gaming issue that arose after the tribes were restored to federal recognition in 1987.

During the disastrous termination era, Congress had essentially transferred the tribes to the state of Texas. The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Indian Tribes of Texas Restoration Act (Public Law 100–89; 101 Stat. 666) restored their relationship with federal government.

Read More on the Story:
Lawmaker proposes bill that could keep local bingo hall open (The Beaumont Enterprise February 14, 2018)
Bill introduced to allow Alabama-Coushatta Tribe to continue operating of its electronic bingo facility (The Lufkin News February 15, 2018)

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