Leader of Indian Gaming Association visits Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas

IGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. with members of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council

The Chairman of the Indian Gaming Association (IGA) Ernie Stevens Jr. visited the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas earlier this month to express support for the Tribe and applaud the success of Naskila Casino.   

During the visit, he learned more about Naskila Casino, the electronic bingo facility that the Tribe has operated on its Reservation since 2016. He also presented Chairman Ricky Sylestine of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council with the 2023 Chairman’s Leadership Award for Rebuilding Communities Through Indian Self-Reliance.    

IGA works with the federal, state and tribal governments to develop sound policies and practices and to provide technical assistance and advocacy on gaming-related issues. IGA works to maintain and protect tribal sovereignty.  

IGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. with A-C Tribal Council Chairman Ricky Sylestine

“We had a good visit with Chairman Stevens and we appreciate his support of our Tribe,” Chairman Sylestine said. “Other Tribes have always been supportive of our right to operate Naskila Casino and we appreciate this important national organization recognizing our work as well. We are proud to be among the community of Tribes that offer gaming as a way to provide for our citizens and help the surrounding economy.”  

Nationally, Tribal government gaming growth continues, due in great part to the outstanding work by tribal casino industry workers. Tribal gaming has grown  from a $16 billion dollar industry in 2003, to $43 billion in gaming revenue and $5.4 billion in ancillary revenue, bringing the total revenue for 2022 to $48.4 billion.  

Naskila Casino is a major economic engine in Deep East Texas. Its annual economic impact is $212 million, according to a study released from the Texas Forest Country Partnership. Naskila is responsible for 825 jobs, about 400 of which are at the facility. It is the second-largest employer in Polk County.   The United States Supreme Court affirmed the Tribe’s right to offer electronic bingo in a 2022 decision, effectively ending the State of Texas’ years-long effort to close Naskila Casino.  

“I am pleased to extend my thanks for Chairman Stevens’ support for the sovereign rights of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and the economic prosperity the Tribe adds to the East Texas economy,” said Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Gaming Agency Board of Regulators Chairman Dennis J. Nelson.   

Tribal Gaming Agency Executive Director Oscar Schuyler added, “We welcome the support of the many Indian Nations represented by IGA in supporting the long struggle of the Tribe in providing good jobs and economic prosperity to East Texas.”


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