Congressman’s bill to save Alabama-Coushatta gaming facility held up in the senate

Congressman’s bill to save Alabama-Coushatta gaming facility held up in the senate
Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 8:23 PM CDT
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LIVINGSTON, Texas (KTRE) - Indian gaming facility, Naskila Gaming in Livingston reopened to fifty percent capacity last week for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced them to close.

However, they could be facing a permanent shutdown if a resolution that would allow them to remain open does not pass.

Naskila Gaming is run by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe. They along with a tribe out of El Paso run these class two Indian gaming facilities that offer electronic bingo.

“The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act absolutely gave permission to these two tribes to open a class two gaming, that’s bingo only, and they’ve been doing this for four years now,” said Brian Babin, U.S. Representative Texas’s 36th congressional district.

In January 2019, Congressman Brian Babin introduced H.R. 759 in an effort to clarify the rights the center had to keep operating. However, U.S. Senator John Cornyn is holding the legislation in the senate and asking that the “committee hearings concerning this legislation be postponed until these parties have reached a resolution or agreement.”

“It passed the House of Representatives on July 24, 2019. It is in the Senate now,” said Cecilia Flores, Tribal Council Chairwoman. “We are hopeful that senator John Cornyn or Ted Cruz will sponsor it in the senate.”

Babin said that these facilities bring $170 million and more than 700 jobs to Texas.

“We offer 400 employees full benefits, which includes healthcare,” Flores said. “So it’s important that we maintain those employees so that them and their families are covered during the pandemic, as well as continue to help the East Texas economy as far as gas revenue, hotels, food.”

Flores said even during their closure due to the pandemic, they were able to maintain payroll and keep their employees receiving benefits.

“It doesn’t make a bit of sense that we would have to be closed down, lose this business, especially during a COVID pandemic, when there’s so many people out of work. And these are not just fly by night jobs,” said Babin. “These are good jobs, with benefits, that pay well. I’ve talked with a lot of these people. They’re written letters thanking me for writing this legislation.”

Since reopening last week because of coronavirus, Flores said they’ve been steadily busy and observing CDC guidelines to keep guests safe.

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