(Livingston – January 18, 2018) – Buoyed by an overwhelming show of regional public support for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and Naskila Gaming, the Tribe announced that it will seek Congressional action in 2018 to address any potential challenges to the Tribe’s ability to continue operating the electronic bingo facility on tribal lands.
Over three-fourths of area respondents voiced their support for the facility in a poll conducted late last year, and released today by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe. The Tribal Council believes the deep level of support makes it appropriate to seek Congressional support and action to ensure that Naskila Gaming will be a part of the southeast Texas economy for decades to come.
The poll revealed overwhelming support by Republican primary voters for allowing the Tribe to continue its electronic bingo operation without interference from the state. Overall, 76 percent of respondents said they support the electronic bingo games on the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s reservation near Livingston. The poll, conducted by Ragnar Research Partners, focused on the ten counties in Congressional District 36 and polled Republican Primary voters. In particular, the poll showed that Naskila Gaming and the Tribe enjoy sky-high approval ratings among those identifying themselves as active church members.
The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe is seeking federal legislation that will affirm its standing under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). This would assure that the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe can continue to operate electronic bingo as authorized by IGRA on its reservation in Polk County.
Tribal Council Chairperson Jo Ann Battise said it was important to the Tribe that it conduct a scientific survey of support before moving forward with its efforts in Washington.
“We want to be a good neighbor, and we needed confirmation from the citizens of the area that they liked what they’ve seen in the last two years,” Chairperson Battise said. “We have been overwhelmed by the show of support, and we’re very grateful.”
Naskila Gaming opened in May of 2016 and has emerged as a vital part of the southeast Texas economy. It provides 330 jobs, more than half of the employees are non-tribal members. The annual payroll currently exceeds $10 million and includes healthcare benefits for employees and their families. Naskila has also invested more than $ 14 million in capital costs and estimates that
in the future it will spend upwards of $17 million every year in operations and capital investment.
“We are pursuing a federal solution in a very thoughtful, deliberative fashion. From the very beginning we’ve had significant support from our immediate neighbors. We wanted to confirm that there is wider regional support. That is why we commissioned this poll last summer. We were very pleased with the results and want to kick off 2018 by releasing it publicly,” said Chairperson Battise. “We have continued a very active community outreach program and I would not be surprised if those numbers have climbed even higher since the poll was conducted.” It was after the poll and because of Naskila Gaming’s success that the Tribe was able to donate $500,000.00 in Hurricane Harvey relief to our neighbors.
The poll showed the following levels of support: • East Texas (including Polk & Tyler Counties) 75 percent support 13 oppose • Liberty-Chambers 82 percent support 6 oppose • Harris 73 percent support 6 oppose • Very conservative 73 percent support 12 oppose • Baptist 76 percent support 8 oppose
The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s popularity is evident across all categories of Republican voters who self-identify as very, somewhat and moderately conservative. The same strong showing appears across denominations of Christians. It is significant that while 66 percent of respondents support electronic bingo in general, the numbers shoot up to 76 percent when asked about the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s specific operation at the Naskila Gaming facility on the Tribe’s reservation.
“It is very important for us to be able to demonstrate to members of Congress that there is solid community support for electronic bingo operations in Texas,” added Chairperson Battise.
“We have been blessed with great success at Naskila Gaming. Every quarter the number of visitors from all over the state increases. Just as we predicted, given the chance, guests will spend their entertainment dollars in Texas. This has truly been a transforming venture for the Tribe because this new revenue stream allows our Tribal Government to increase the budget for all of the health, education, housing and social services for our people,” said Chairperson Battise.