After the Texas Legislature failed to make progress this year on gambling expansion, one Texas tribe has turned to advertising to attract players to its gaming facility.
KETK-TV reported the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, which owns and operates Naskila Casino, is using billboard advertising to get people’s attention.
Naskila Casino is a Class II gambling facility on tribal lands located just east of Livingston. Commercial casinos in Texas are not legal.
The billboards feature the message, “We’re a Texas casino,” and remind drivers how far they are from Livingston.
“It’s so exciting to see those signs, you know, you can’t wait until you get there,” Whitney Williams, the social media specialist at Naskila Casino, told KETK-TV. “We’re just hoping to build that player system.”
The Naskila Casino sells itself as “the Luckiest Spot in Texas.” The casino features nearly 800 electronic bingo machines, which operate like slot machines.
Gambling opposition speaks up
Not everyone is happy with the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s use of advertising, including Texas Values Policy Director Jonathan Covey.
“I think that advertisements that push the expansion of gambling, whether it be in the state or encouraging, I think those are harmful, and it tends to increase this addictive disorder,” Covey told KTEK-TV.
Texas Values is an Austin-based advocacy group that is dedicated to preserving and advancing faith, family and freedom in Texas.
Tribal gaming in Texas
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act divides Indian gaming into three classes: Class I, Class II and Class III.
Class I gaming includes social games and traditional and ceremonial Indian games. Class II gaming includes bingo and non-banked card games. Class III gaming includes all other forms of gambling, including casino-style games. Texas is one of three states forbidding tribes from offering Class III casino games.
In addition to Naskila Casino, Texas features two other Class II tribal gaming facilities. The largest of these facilities is the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel in Eagle Pass.
Kickapoo Lucky Eagles, owned and operated by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, offers bingo, keno, electronic bingo machines and non-banked card games such as poker. The other facility, the Speaking Rock Entertainment Center in El Paso, is operated by Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (also known as the Tiguas) and offers electronic bingo games.
Gambling legislative efforts fail in 2023
Amendments to the Texas Constitution aimed at asking voters to approve casino gambling and sports betting failed this year in the Texas Legislature.
The sports betting effort experienced more legislative success than casino expansion, which failed to get a third reading and House vote. The sports betting amendment cleared the House on May 11 in historic fashion. It was the first time either chamber of the Legislature passed a sports betting measure.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick quickly squashed sports betting hopes in the Senate when he said the chamber would not consider the legislation. It officially died when the legislative session ended May 29.
“Texans deserve to vote on legalizing sports betting, and we will continue working to put this initiative on the ballot in 2025,” Texas Sports Betting Alliance spokesperson and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement.