Some East Texans are concerned about gaming in Texas

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LIVINGSTON, TX (KTRE) - The casino operated by the Alabama Coushatta tribe closed nearly seven years ago, but a push for gaming legislation could cause the Casino to open its doors again.   However, some East Texans are not too thrilled about the possibility of an old neighbor moving back in.

"Casinos have an enormous social cost attached to them," said Lindell Mitchell.

Not everyone agrees with Mitchell.

"We've seen the benefits and they far outweigh somebody's risk of what it might be able to do," said Tribal Council Chairman Carlos Bullock.

Mitchell said the negative impact this gaming facility will have on the community far outweighs any benefits, but the tribe said if their doors stay locked the tribe will continue to suffer.

"We have social ills that people not working face," Bullock said.

Mitchell wonders if those casino jobs really benefit the community.

"Our government is endorsing an enterprise that's falling apart as we speak," Mitchell said.

He said casinos across the Nation are losing money and he does not want this to be the case with the Livingston casino.

"Everybody wants to tell us what's good for us, but the tribe has already spoken and that's why we're out there fighting to reopen this establishment," Bullock said.

Even though the Tribe said they plan to create responsible gaming programs, Mitchell said it will not work.

"It's just like Anheuser-Busch sponsoring a don't drink and drive campaign," Mitchell said.

"We should be in charge of our own destination and we should be able to control our own affairs,"  Bullock said.

Mitchell said he is just concerned for the community he raised his children in.

As for the $3 billion leaving Texas, Mitchell said it is still not worth making Texans foot the bill for the financial and emotional strain of gambling.

The East Texas news spoke with Representative Jim McReynolds about his thoughts on the renewed push for gaming legislation.   He said he does not support gaming in Texas, however he does not look down on those who choose to engage in the activity.

"Since my mama, who's in heaven, would pull my hair out if I supported gambling and that's my background and who I am.  Nevertheless, I believe that I could vote if a constitutional amendment of gambling came up," Representative McReynolds said.

Representative McReynolds said he would support an amendment to allow Texans to decide for themselves if gaming should be legalized.   He said he has been up front with the Alabama Coushatta Tribe and they respect his stance on the issue.   McReynolds said he does not think that the state is ready for casino gaming at this time.

KTRE and will continue to follow this story as new legislation is filed.