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Texan Tribal Gaming

The first Indian casino in Texas opened in 1993, and tribal gaming has faced a constant legal battle ever since. The Kickapoo offer Class II gaming, which doesn't require a compact with the state. When the Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua tribes gained federal recognition in 1987, they were, by statute, required to comply with Texas' gambling laws. When Texas legalized the lottery, the tribes believed that opened the door to full gambling on reservations, including casinos. The Tigua opened a casino in 1993. The Alabama-Coushatta opened a casino in 2001. The state sued both tribes, and ultimately prevailed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its favor in 2002, saying the tribes had to comply with state law regarding casino gaming. As a result, the casinos were forced to shut down.

In April 2007, the House considered a bill by Rep. Norma Chavez (D – El Paso) to reopen casinos on Tigua, Alabama-Coushatta and two other tribes' lands. The Tigua and Alabama-Coushatta tribes planned to use the revenue to fund social and educational programs. A tie vote killed the measure.

Texas lawmakers have consistently refused to expand gambling options for the state's tribes, even though some Class III games are legal in Texas. As a result, the Kickapoo Tribe petitioned the Department of the Interior (DOI) for assistance. In May 2007, the Interior Secretary began procedures to allow the tribe some Class III gaming, excluding slots. The state appealed this decision, and in August 2007, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the DOI did not follow the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by excluding the state in the compact negotiations.

For decades the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe has been trying to collect on a $270 million court decision. The court recommended that Congress compensate the tribe for the illegal development of 5 million acres of tribal lands; however, in 2013 the tribe decided that future gaming rights were more important than compensations for past wrongs.

In March 2013, Rep. Steve Stockman introduced a bill that included the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe's offer to forgo the $270 million reparation payment if allowed to resume gaming development. The bill died in committee.

Texan Tribal Gaming Properties

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