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Alabama-Coushattas Hope for Legalized Gambling

12 July 2004

ALABAMA-COUSHATTA RESERVATION, Texas – As reported by the Houston Chronicle: "It's tranquil enough to hear the wind rustling the tall pines and oaks on this land where the Alabama and Coushatta tribes joined in friendship 200 years ago.

"Inside one modern brick building, elderly members of the tribe chat in their native language over lunch.

"…Another building, a large A-frame constructed of heavy logs, stands empty. A peek inside the glass doors reveals a large empty space with an Indian-motif carpet and dust gathering on black ceiling fixtures.

"Those fixtures housed cameras that once monitored people as they plugged coins into 300 slot machines or tried their luck at five blackjack tables.

"Gambling is gone, but the Alabama-Coushattas hope Texas lawmakers trying to find new ways to fund public schools will legalize it in some form.

"For nine months, between November 2001 and July 2002, the scene at this isolated Indian reservation was much different. Cars crowded the parking lot, and people from all over East Texas lined up to enter what the tribe called its 'entertainment center.'

"…Two months after the Alabama-Coushatta casino quietly opened, then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn went to federal court to close it.

"On July 25, 2002, tribal leaders announced they would obey a federal court order and close their casino.

"The Tiguas and the Alabama-Coushattas had their hopes raised again this year when Gov. Rick Perry unveiled a school finance proposal that included video lottery terminals at horse and dog tracks and on Indian reservations.

"…The Alabama-Coushatta hired 11 lobbyists this year to support Perry's video lottery proposal, according to records on file at the Texas Ethics Commission…"

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