Texas Gambling: Is It Legal?

Texas Indian Casinos

The three federally recognised tribes in Texas have been authorised by the federal government to build and operate casinos on their reservation lands. This law has been passed under the U.S. Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Texas has been fighting fiercely in the courts for the last few decades in order to shut down each of these three casinos, even when the Indian reservations have sovereignty over state jurisdiction. 

The Three Texas Casinos Are :

  • The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino, which is operated by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas in Eagle Pass.
  • Maverick County, TX, is home to the Speaking Rock Casino, which is operated by the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo of El Paso’s Tigua Indians.
  • The Naskila Casino, which is operated by the Texas in Livingston, Polk County, TX’s Alabama-Coushatta Tribe.

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling 2022

The Supreme Court of the U.S. announced its final ruling on the long-standing Indian gaming controversy in Texas in June 2022. The court said that Texas has no authority whatsoever to stop the tribes from operating electronic bingo games since legally, the state allows them. Texas tribes possess self-jurisdiction over the operations of these casinos on their lands under the rules and terms set forth by the U.S. Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.

Texas Casino Legalization: Gov. Abbott Softens His Position

Gov. Greg Abbott has been fighting the legalization of betting for years. But according to a statement that was released in October by his press secretary, Renae Eze, prominently indicates that the governor probably is willing to reconsider the issue. 

The statement that was released in the Houston Chronicle by the Office of the Texas Governor said that they do not want slot machines at every corner store; they do not want Texans to be losing any money that they need for everyday expenses; and they do not want any sort of crime that could be associated with gaming. However, if there is a path to create an extremely professional entertainment option for the population in Texas, then Gov. Abbott would definitely take a look at it.

The state constitution has banned the Texas casinos. Its legislation would require an amendment that is approved by the Texan voters.

Las Vegas Sands has long been pursuing legislative support in order to issue a statewide referendum for licensing a very limited number of commercial casinos. As reported by the campaign’s finance documents, Abbot has ceremoniously received a whopping $1 million contribution from Dr. Miriam Adelson, who is the majority stockholder of Las Vegas Sands. Recent campaign contributions have been received by many legislators as well. 

Texas Indian Gaming: Winning The Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court handed a huge victory in the month of October in support of Indian gaming in Texas. The decision was taken through the 5-4 method, after which the court sided with the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta tribes of Texas over the State of Texas.

Since the 1990s, the state has been fighting the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo over Class II casino gaming that was allowed by the U.S. Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, or IGRA. It was applicable only if the type of gaming was not specifically banned by the state. Sometimes referred to as “electronic bingo” games, the Class II games are played everywhere in the state, which even allows charitable bingo games.

The court announcement says that states cannot stop the tribes from operating electronic bingo games as there is no outright ban on bingo in the state. The decision also reaffirms the autonomy of the tribes in regulating non-prohibited gaming. It also strengthened the sovereignty of the tribes on reservation lands.

In the end, the court didn’t find any evidence that Congress endowed state law with anything similar to the power Texas claims.

The court also reiterated that the tribe might offer gaming on whatever terms it wishes. The Restoration Act offers that a gaming activity which is prohibited by Texas law is also prohibited on tribal land as a matter of federal law. All the other gaming activities are also subjected to tribal regulations and, therefore, must conform to the rules and terms and conditions set forth in federal law.

What Is The Minimum Gambling Age In Texas?

Minimum gambling ages are:

Casinos, age 21

Poker: 21 years old

Bingo, 18 years old

Horse racing, 21 years old

Lottery, age 18

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