Texas AG Dismisses Electronic Bingo Case With Ysleta Tribe

Written By Rashid Mohamed on October 14, 2022
Texas and the tribe thet sued over electronic bingo have agreed to end the case.

The ruling is final and the plaintiff rests their case.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the lawyers representing the El Paso Tigua Tribe came to a mutual agreement. They decided to drop a pending court case which the US Supreme Court returned to a lower court.

This comes after a significant victory over the state of Texas in June. The case assessed whether the El Paso Tigua Tribe, officially known as the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, could legally conduct electronic bingo games at their Speaking Rock casino. Texas had claimed the games were illegal.

The state’s position follows the Texas Constitution, which outlaws nearly all forms of gambling. Players interested in casino gaming can find their only legal relief in online sweepstakes casinos.

Lawyers met to resolve any lingering issues

On Sept. 27, an agreement was sent to the US District Court for the Western District in El Paso to dismiss the case.

Three weeks earlier, on Sept. 6, Federal Judge Kathleen Cardone ordered the lawyers representing both sides to come together and figure out whether there were any unresolved issues. If not, the case would end by mutual consent.

The lawyers met four times during September to hash out any issues. Last Tuesday, they concluded that “the United States Supreme Court ruling resolved all claims in the case and there is no need for further court proceedings.”

The tribe released a statement issued by their lawyer, Brant Martin.

“The tribe is proud to have reached an agreement with the state of Texas to end the decades-long dispute over the tribe’s gaming activities. We are grateful that the Supreme Court has affirmed the tribe’s sovereignty under the (federal) Restoration Act, and the tribe will continue to support its members and its community with confidence, secure in the knowledge earned by this legal outcome. The tribe will continue to offer entertainment, concerts and gaming at Speaking Rock, and is excited to expand its services to better serve the tribe’s members and West Texas.”

The Texas Attorney General’s Office has not made a statement about the dismissal.

Second tribe relieved that case is over

The High Court’s decision last June was also a win for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.

That tribe had been targeted by the state as well regarding the same issue, electronic bingo games. The win proved quite significant for the Alabama-Coushatta considering that more than 700 jobs hung in the balance.

Ricky Sylestine, chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council, said his tribe could now move forward.

“The families that depend on Naskila Gaming for their paycheck are breathing a sigh of relief. For years, the state’s efforts have created uncertainty for our tribe, Naskila Gaming employees and our East Texas neighbors. Now, we can put those threats behind us and look to a brighter future.”

The tribe resides in Polk County, northeast of Houston. It has more than 1,000 members, most of whom live on tribal lands. The majority work for Naskila Gaming, which is the largest private employer in Polk County.

Flood gates aren’t by any means open

Despite the allowances for legal electronic and in-person bingo at tribal casinos, Texans would be jumping to conclusions if they felt this decision opened the floodgates to expanded gaming.

Naskila Gaming, in speaking to PlayTexas said,

“The Alabama-Coushatta is offering electronic bingo at its Naskila facility.  This is the same type of gaming that has been played in Eagle Pass, Texas, since 1996 and therefore is not an expansion of gaming in Texas.”

The Ysleta tribe’s Speaking Rock Entertainment Center is in the same boat. Players have e-bingo options, but table games, traditional slots, and sports betting are still off the table. These shifts will likely only come after significant changes to the state constitution.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Rashid Mohamed

Rashid Mohamed is an international journalist with a special interest in sports writing. He contributes regularly to PlayTexas, focusing on both the pathway to gaming legalization and the underground market in the state. He is a Poli-Sci graduate of Ohio University and holds an A.A.S in Journalism. He has worked in a number of countries and has extensive experience in the United Nations as well as other regional, national, and international organizations. Rashid lives and writes out of Denver, Colorado.

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