LIVINGSTON, Texas (KTRE) - By next month, the Alabama Coushatta tribe may have answers involving their legal battles with the state of Texas.
That is if the U.S. House of Representatives votes to advance House Resolution 759 to the Senate.
The bill authorizes the tribe to operate their electronic bingo gaming facility without interference from the State.
“We are a federally recognized tribe with sovereign rights and we would like to assert those sovereign rights,” said Cecilia Flores, council chairwoman for the tribe.
Shortly after opening the gaming facility Naskila in 2016, the State of Texas filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Coushatta Tribe.
“The State of Texas, they have an issue, they’re saying that there’s no gaming in Texas, but we know that the Eagle Pass tribe has been offering class two gaming since 1996,” Flores said.
But it’s all about fairness said Flores. The tribe’s seeking to have the same rights as the other federally recognized tribe in Texas.
“We feel like we have the sovereign right to offer class two gaming and this bill will HR 759 will clarify that right,” Flores said.
Filed by Congressman Brian Babin, HR 759 aims remove conflicting language in federal law. State officials have argued using the language under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to prevent the Alabama Coushatta Tribe to operate their class two electronic gaming.
But for the tribe, Flores said there’s a economic development benefit for Deep East Texas. Their reservation employees at least 500 people with 370 people just in Naskila generating millions of dollars.
“Last year we had an economic study conducted and there was almost 140 million (dollars) in the region that was impacted,” Flores said.
Through the funds, the tribe was able to offer scholarships for higher education, buy new homes, and hire a full time doctor for the tribal members.
Ultimately, Flores said they hope through HR 759 the tribe can gain equal and fair rights on tribal economic development through Naskila gaming.
After the July 4 holiday, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure.
In April, Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to the house voicing his opposition for the legislation.