A new legal salvo was fired this week in the state’s long-running battle against Indian gambling with a filing in federal court that seeks to close the gaming hall on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation.
A motion for contempt and injunctive relief was filed Monday by Attorney General Ken Paxton, claiming that the Naskila Entertainment Center, which has offered electronic bingo since reopening in May, violates an existing court injunction.
It asks that the small East Texas tribe be ordered to halt the gaming operation, remove all gaming equipment and pay a civil penalty of $10,000 a day from June 2 until all gaming ceases.
On Tuesday, the log cabin-style hall on the 10,000-acre reservation in the Piney Woods east of Livingston was still open to the gaming public.
“We definitely think we’re in the right. The federal government and the National Indian Gaming Commission gave us the authority, so we think we’re on good legal grounds,” said tribal spokesman Carlos Bullock after conferring Tuesday with members of the tribal council.
The legal landscape for the Tigua and Alabama-Coushatta appeared to improve last year when both the Interior Department and the NIGC issued administrative opinions that the two small tribes could offer certain types of gaming.
But earlier this year, the state won a marathon legal battle with the Tigua when a federal judge in El Paso ruled that the tribe’s entertainment center was really a thinly disguised gambling hall.
The Tigua now plan on offering permitted bingo-hall-style games that are legal in Texas.
In ordering the Tigua to cease offering “sweepstakes,” U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone also ruled that federal case law, which prohibited the gaming, trumped the opinions of the two federal agencies.
See here, here, and here for some background. This action by the state was completely expected, given past litigation and the noises the AG’s office had been making since the casino reopened. Both the Alabama-Coushatta and the Tigua tribes had tried again with their casinos under new administrative guidelines from the National Indian Gaming Commission, but the subsequent loss in court by the Tigua does not bode well for the Alabama-Coushatta. We’ll see how it goes.