Bill would recognize tribal gaming

Leaders of Texas’ native communities are cheering a new House bill that would finally give all of the state’s tribes equal federal recognition for electronic gaming.

House Bill 2208, introduced by Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso) and Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-San Antonio), would ensure the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribe near El Paso and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe in Livingston are covered under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The state has several tribal communities that are not recognized by the federal government. The Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas is currently the only one that has an uncontested right to host electronic gaming on its lands.

“The impact of the passing of this bill will strengthen tribal self-reliance for our plans to head toward economic development and sustainability,” Nita Battise, chairwoman of the Tribal Council for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, told the Enterprise.

Both the Alabama-Coushatta and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo were impacted by a series of policies between the mid-1940s and 1960s that came to be known as “Indian termination.”

In the late 1960s, both tribes had their federal recognition terminated and responsibilities were transferred to the state, but several lawsuits and a congressional push by former El Paso Congressman Ronald Coleman restored federal jurisdiction by 1987.

But, a section of the bill that restored federal oversight still prohibited any gaming activities that were outlawed in Texas.Since then, both tribes have constructed and operated gaming facilities that have been increasingly met with injunctions and penalties by Attorney General Ken Paxton since 2015.Alabama-Coushatta leadership have said that clarifying […]

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