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Tigua leader’s past could hamper gaming bid

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Legislation to allow casino gaming in Texas, already on shaky ground, could be further hampered by the criminal record of the leader of one of the American Indian tribes at the forefront of the effort, some lawmakers said.

Lawmakers told the Tigua tribe of El Paso this week that the chances of passing any gaming legislation during the current session are minuscule, and one of the factors is the criminal record of tribal Gov. Frank Paiz, the El Paso Times reported April 11.

The Tiguas are seeking to resume gaming at the Speaking Rock Casino, but the issue has met resistance, in part because of Paiz’s criminal record, which dates to 1987, the newspaper said.

Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said there are “insurmountable obstacles” for the tribe as well as proponents of gaming in general. He told the Times that about 40 Republicans have already vowed not to vote for any gaming

legislation.

The newspaper said Paiz did not return phone calls seeking comment about the latest development and his criminal history.

After Paiz was elected to lead the tribe last year, the Times reported that he had been charged with a variety of offenses, including theft, drunken driving and assaulting a police officer. The newspaper said Paiz had repeatedly failed to comply with the terms of his probation and had spent at least a month in jail.

Paiz said he has changed his ways, received an education and been given a second chance by the tribal community.

Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, said she has informed the Tiguas that Paiz’s past would be a problem for legislators.

“A CEO of any gaming corporation with the same exact background (as Paiz) wouldn’t be allowed to sign a contract with the state, so it’s hard to ask my colleagues to do something a CEO can’t do.”

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