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Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo of Texas (Tigua)

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A bill approved by a House committee Feb. 27 could hinder a lawsuit filed by Attorney General John Cornyn that threatens to shut down the Tigua Speaking Rock Casino. The measure would allow the Tiguas and the Kickapoos at Eagle Pass and the Alabama-Coushatta in East Texas to have gaming operations on existing reservations. The bill passed the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee 7-2. A similar bill was filed in the Senate. The Tiguas argue the State Lottery Act allows games of chance. The bill would provide a defense to prosecution for a gambling offense for any federally recognized Indian tribe that conducts gaming operations, permissible under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, on its tribal lands. Tigua and county and state leaders urged the committee to approve the bill, saying the casino has generated money that the tribe has used to invest in businesses, build houses for tribe members and make charitable contributions. Before the casino opened in El Paso in 1993, the tribe's unemployment rate was 50 percent and some families lived in trailers without electricity, gas and water. Now, the tribal unemployment rate is a maximum 1 percent and families are moving into the three bedroom homes, said Tigua Gov. Albert Alvidrez.