LIVINGSTON – Expressing both surprise and disappointment in the Texas Attorney General’s challenge to the Alabama-Coushatta gaming operation, State Rep. James White said he will continue to support the Polk County tribe in their effort to become self-sufficient.
“I spoke with the attorney general’s office this week to express my concerns,” White said Friday. “I wondered why they had to wait until after the Alabama-Coushatta spent all this money to set up their entertainment center before coming forward to challenge it. They could have had discussions much earlier, in fact, I’m told the Alabama-Coushatta wanted to have discussions, but that the attorney general’s office was not forthcoming.”
White noted that in October 2015 the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Indian Gaming Commission announced that under federal law a Class II gaming license was being issued to the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. Such a license would allow the Tribe to operate bingo or electronic bingo.
“The attorney general’s office was given the same notice back in October of last year that the license was being issued but they waited until now to step forward and challenge it,” White said. “I’m both disappointed and intrigued by this.
“Now to swoop in with litigation when this could have been worked out almost a year ago is something that I just don’t understand.”
Initially, the attorney general filled a challenge in federal court asking that the Tribe be held in contempt of court for violating a 2002 federal court order that shut down their first gaming operation on the reservation located east of Livingston. The attorney general’s office was asking that a $10,000 fine be levied for every day the gaming center is in operation.
“It’s my understanding that they have now dropped the $10,000 a day fine request and are asking that the court just shut the gaming center down,” White said.
“When I spoke to the people at the attorney general’s office, I told them they weren’t dealing with the Obama Administration, they weren’t dealing with the EPA, they were dealing with their fellow Texans.”
White noted that since the Tribe opened the Naskila Entertainment facility in June, they created many jobs for tribal members as well as for non-tribal members living in Polk and other nearby counties.
The state representative said the Tribe will use its income to provide things such as health care to tribal members and to increase the overall standard of living in their community.
“I told the attorney general’s office that James White is in support of the Alabama-Coushatta,” he added.