Supreme Court To Decide Fate Of Tigua Gambling In Texas

  • The US Supreme Court will be taking the case between the Tigua Indians and Texas.
  • The Tigua Indians wish to offer gambling on their sovereign land and Texas continues to block it from happening.
  • This is a nearly 30-year long battle coming to a head.

EL PASO, Texas – The Tigua Indians are attempting to offer gambling of some kind on their land but Texas legislators continuously deny them from doing so. This case has now reached the US Supreme Court.

Texas has opposed Tigua offering gambling since 1994 but the Tigua Tribe argues that they should be able to offer gambling on their own territory.

Depending on the ruling of the Supreme Court, this case could impact the case of other gaming markets, including Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts.

Gambling In Texas

Texas has prevented Tigua from offering any form of regulated gambling, with the most recent case being the 2019 decision to deem the bingo-style games offered at the Speaking Rock Entertainment Center in El Paso as illegal.

Tigua appealed this case and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals accepted the request to have a hearing on the matter. This is the first appeal to be granted an audience for Tigua.

“The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (the formal name of the Tigua Tribe) and its members are grateful for the opportunity to present these issues to the Supreme Court,” said Brant Martin, a Fort Worth-based attorney for the tribe. “This is an important case involving the sovereignty and self-determination of Native American tribes, and the interpretation of federal statutes protecting those rights. We look forward to vindicating our clients’ position In the Supreme Court, and will have no further comment at this time.”

This is a major victory for the Tigua Tribe as the high court only agrees to hear about 2% of all appeals received.

Tigua gained its appeal with aid from the federal government, as the Biden administration sided with both Tigua and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribes in Texas, granting them both audiences with the high court.

What Happens Next?

In the coming months, oral arguments are likely to be heard with a final decision being made in 2022. Should the court rule in favor of the tribes, then this could set a precedent for tribes with similar issues nationwide.

Narragansett Indian Tribe in Rhode Island has been attempting to offer gambling but has also been blocked by the state.

The Passamaquoddy, the Penobscot Nation, and the Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians in Maine may all submit for gaming appeals as well. And the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head in Massachusetts is likely to follow this pattern if things turn out positively for the Texas tribes.

This case could also affect the Texas gambling market. if nothing stops Tigua from offering gambling to patrons, then the entire industry could see regulated casinos statewide in the future, whether Texas lawmakers like it or not.