The Huntsville City Council voted Feb. 18 to show their support in the passage of House Resolution 759, a bill that would aid the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta tribes.
The tribes are limited by the Texas Restoration Act , which prohibits them from conducting gaming activities on their reservations if those activities are prohibited by Texas law. HR 759 amends that act to be in line with the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which allows gaming on reservations under certain conditions.
In 2016, the Alabama-Coushatta tribe opened Naskila Gaming on their reservation. The electronic gaming facility is one of the largest employers in Polk County, according to Polk County Economic Development.
Huntsville Economic Development Director Tammy Gann said the city chose to support the tribe because of the economic impact it would have on our region.
“I think the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Texas, through their operation of the Naskila gaming facility, has proven themselves to be a critical part of the economy within the region,” Gann said.
The resolution stated the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas is fighting for the passage of this bill by the Senate to clarify that the tribe can enjoy the opportunity for tribal economic development on terms that are equal and fair with federal law.
Executive Director of Community Development at Naskila Gaming, Tony Averitt, said it means everything to have support from Huntsville.
“The tribe has long history with Walker County and specifically Huntsville,” Averitt said. “It goes all the way back to the tribes’ relationship with Sam Houston.”
Averitt says the most immediate impact of the bill not being passed would undermine the 400 plus families that depend on jobs at the facility.
“It’s a fairness issue,” Averitt said. “Why can one tribe do it and the others can’t?”