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Tigua are denied new trial on Speaking Rock Casino

EL PASO, Texas ? U.S. District Judge Garnet Thomas Eisele has denied the Tigua tribe's request for a new trial.

Eisele also refused to amend a judgment which orders the Speaking Rock Casino to close by Nov. 30, ruling he "finds no reason to change or modify the terms of the injunction."

Tribal spokesman Marc Schwartz said that although all the motions were denied, the tribe would be filing in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"The judge made some unbelievable ? let me give an example. The judge actually ruled on a motion without giving us a chance to respond to it."

In his ruling, the judge stated that the "Speaking Rock Casino was a public nuisance and was operating in violation of the state's gambling laws and that it must shut down."

Eisele asserted the casino must shut down before he would reconsider any modifications to his earlier judgment. Eisele wrote: "After the illegal operations cease and the nuisance is fully abated, the defendants are, of course, free to petition to the court for a modification of any terms of the injunction." He went on to say that the tribe had not taken "any of the steps necessary to come within the law."

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His judgment comes at the same time that the Alabama-Coushatta tribe is moving forward with plans to build a casino within Texas. In Beaumont, Alabama-Coushatta Chairman Kevin Battise told the Beaumont Enterprise: "In Texas there's the lottery, bingo, horse racing, dog racing. We believe we're legal, and if everything goes right we're going to have gaming right here."

Battise echoed the sentiments the Tigua tribe has argued through public opinion and the legal system. But the Texas attorney general's office disagrees with both tribes, saying that under the 1987 Restoration Act, both tribes are prohibited from gaming ventures.

Schwartz said the Tigua tribe isn't going to take the latest ruling lying down and will continue to seek legal remedies to keep the casino open.

"What (Eisele) said in his order was that there would be irreparable harm to the state by allowing us to stay open ? not taking into account the irreparable harm that would occur by the fact that the state did not file a suit for six years and allowed this to grow into the deal that it grew into. He isn't even taking that into account."

Burgeoning support they hope will help efforts to keep the casino open is coming from both within and outside of Texas. "The Native American community is outraged by it, " Swartz said.

It would appear more than just the Native American community is outraged by the specter of the casino closing. In an El Paso Times poll, readers were asked if they were in favor of changing the laws to keep the casino open. The poll reported that 69 percent of those contacted wanted to have the laws changed so the casino could remain open.

The state considers the casino operated by the Kickapoo Tribe in Texas as being legally run because of the tribe's federal status.