East Texans ask for support in keeping job-creating casino in Polk County

Naskila Casino in Polk County, Texas

As Texas leaders tout the creation of jobs in other parts of the state, East Texas leaders are urging them to remember the 1,700 jobs put at risk by the state’s effort to close electronic bingo facilities in Livingston and El Paso.

On Friday, Governor Greg Abbott visited Waco to highlight a new Amazon fulfillment center and the jobs it would create. 

But at the same time, Abbott and other state officials are trying to take jobs away from East Texas. The state has for years been trying in court to close electronic bingo facilities operated in Livingston by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and in El Paso by Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo. Those facilities account for 1,700 Texas jobs — 700 at Naskila Gaming in Livingston and 1,000 in El Paso.  

“We need our elected leaders to care about jobs in East Texas as much as they care about jobs in Waco and other places,” said Jared Jernigan, Board Chairman of the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce. “East Texas should not be taken for granted. Families who depend on Naskila for their paycheck do not understand why some of our elected leaders are not trying to save these jobs.”

In July 2019, the U.S. House unanimously passed legislation authored by Republican Rep. Brian Babin to expressly allow electronic bingo at the Livingston and El Paso facilities — just as it is allowed at a Kickapoo facility in Eagle Pass. 

However, Babin’s legislation has sat dormant in the U.S. Senate for more than a year. In fact, Abbott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn have both spoken out against the bill and urged senators not to pass it.

“The jobs at Naskila Gaming are absolutely critical to the people of East Texas,” said State Rep. James White, R-Hillister. “People who live in this region are very concerned that we are going to lose Naskila and our entire regional economy will suffer tremendously. Our U.S. senators can step up and deliver a major victory for private-sector jobs in East Texas by passing Congressman Babin’s bill before the end of this year. We need these jobs.”

Other East Texas leaders have urged action as well. More than 70 civic, business and political groups have passed formal resolutions and statements supporting Babin’s bill to save Naskila.

In August, 19 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas sent Cornyn a letter urging him to help the bill move forward.

“These 1,700 jobs represent 1,700 families, who need the certainty of the legislation to know that they will be able to afford their mortgage/rent, can put food on the table and support their children’ s needs,” the letter said. “Roughly 60 percent of  these jobs are filled by non-Tribal members, and we estimate the total economic impact for the passage of H.R. 759 would be $645 million annually in and around El Paso and Livingston, Texas, two areas of the state that traditionally have high unemployment rates even before the pandemic.”

In addition, visitors to Naskila Gaming have sent more than 14,000 letters to Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz in support of the facility over the last two months.

“Texans support Naskila Gaming, even if some Texas politicians do not,” said Polk County Republican Party Chairman Fred Grube. “Without Naskila, a lot of dollars that are spent in Texas will be spent in Louisiana and other places. This is a critical time for our region and East Texans are very concerned that our elected leaders are not helping us.” 

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


  1. Good luck, some texas politicians can’t pass up the money that can be made by lobbying against casinos in texas,it’s all about the money. They would like you to believe it’s about family values and so called crime. BULL

  2. I’m with the Alabama Coushatta tribe. I know people work there to feed the family’s. There is a lot of people in my Area who loves going out there for trying their luck. They should be able to run their casino on their reservation. There is reservations all over the country that has casinos, why shouldn’t we have one in Polk County?

  3. I hope Cornyn loses this election. I’m a republican but I didn’t vote for him. We are losing jobs and money to Louisiana.

  4. Re: Naskila… I dont see why Cornyn wants to take it away. It’s not even a “Full Facility Casino”, meaning it doesnt have any “Table Games”. It only operates Slot Machine type games. My wife and I have been there several times in the past two yrs. It provides some fun and a little excitement , especially if you win, along with a nice restaurant with pretty good food. Its exceptionally clean and of course “No Alcohol is Served or Allowed”.
    I dont know who is Lobbying for Cornyn but Who Ever it Is must be shelling out some Cash his direction, but for What Purpose is Beyond Me.
    Can Someone Please Tell me Why Cornyn Does Not Want These Places To Exist….???

  5. Heads up John Cornyn. Get this done for the people of East Texas . We enjoy this casino and the fact that so many jobs depend on it you should not be taking this long to pass the bill. I am a Trump supporter and will be voting red in all areas and would appreciate your attention on this.

  6. East Texas does not have much industry to support families. Please keep up the fight & push for approval. This organization has kept their employees on payroll despite the government shutdown.

  7. Its really weird that ted cruz governor Abbott who i did vote for and senator Cornyn all let these gaming machines into our neighbor hoods with no regulations as they rip us off but they want to block gaming that create jobs. It does not make sense

  8. Cornyn is a RINO; but I don’t really care for MJ Hegar; so if there is a Libertarian candidate; I will vote for them, rather than Cornyn. If no Libertarian, I will vote to re-elect Cornyn and hope SOMEONE who is a TRUE Republican will step up and beat him in the mid-terms.

    Cornyn is DEFINITELY ALL ABOUT THE MONEY and the “cushy job” in DC! His voting record is anything but satisfactory to me! I believe Naskila is a good thing for Polk County. I live in San Jac County, not far from Naskila, and although I have never been; they do help our economy locally and federally, as well as on the state level.

  9. Louisiana does not want texas casino competition, that industry pays large for lobbyists in texas to keep voting against it.

  10. People who are going to gamble are going into Louisiana and Texas is loosing revenue by this. Count the Texas cars at any casino and 95% are from Texas.

  11. Honestly to me,Naskila’s gaming is not a casino it’s electronic bingo,it’s not gambling. they should let these people work to support their families.

  12. Need to leave Naskila casino alone my sister and I enjoy
    Going once a week that’s our little get away!!?

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