Monday, December 30, 2013

The Kickapoo Casino, Eagle Pass, Texas

Gambling is not legal in Texas and in many parts of Texas you cannot buy alcohol either but you can buy guns and ammunition and, under certain circumstances you can legally use those guns to kill another human being. Governor Rick Perry signed a number of bills ensuring that one Texan may lawfully kill another - The Castle Doctrine, Stand Your Ground, Civil Immunity and Peaceable Journey, described in this wiki.

Texans who live in 'dry' counties still drink, they just have to drive further to buy it, or join a 'club' for a few dollars a year and they can purchase a drink in select places by displaying their membership card. Just outside Tyler TX, a dry city, as you leave the city limits there are at least 5 liquor stores in a cluster.

It is difficult to get around the gambling ban, so many Texans drive into Louisiana or Oklahoma where there are dozens of casinos, pouring Texas dollars into the economy of these states and out of the Texas economy. According to this wiki the only forms of gambling allowed are: Texas Lottery, parimutuel wagering on horse and greyhound racing; charitable bingo, pull-tabs, and raffles and one Indian casino.

Our first experience of gambling in Texas was a casino cruise which was gambling 7 miles out in the gulf, and we only did that once.  The waiting around to board, the 7 mile cruise before the gambling could commence, and the same 7 mile cruise back without any entertainment, and the long wait to disembark really did remove any value from the few hours of gambling time.

Our next attempt at keeping our gambling funds in Texas was a little better, but I don't think it was enough to encourage us to stop heading out of state to casinos with more oversight, and better amenities.

Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino

Yet another wiki describes: " The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is a 1988 United States federal law that establishes the jurisdictional framework that governs Indian gaming. There was no federal gaming structure before this act. The stated purposes of the act include providing a legislative basis for the operation/regulation of Indian gaming, protecting gaming as a means of generating revenue for the tribes, encouraging economic development of these tribes, and protecting the enterprises from negative influences (such as organized crime). The law established the National Indian Gaming Commission and gave it a regulatory mandate."

According to an article on the Texas State Historical Association website:

..."The Kickapoos did not legally hold title to land in Texas until 1985, but because they have traditionally camped near the international bridge between Piedras Negras, Coahuila, and Eagle Pass, Texas, they have long been identified with this state. On January 8, 1983, Public Law 97–429 resolved the Kickapoos' ambiguous land situation. Under this statute they were officially granted lands near El Indio, Texas, and became identified to United States authorities as the Texas Band of the Oklahoma Kickapoos, thereby becoming eligible for federal aid. Nevertheless, the people still call themselves the Mexican Kickapoos, as they are called in Mexico, their primary place of residence. Today the Mexican Kickapoos are distinguished by their retention of their traditional culture. From religion to home construction to language and education, the coherent Kickapoo way of life has survived, even if somewhat modified by a veneer of western civilization. The group, which numbers between 625 and 650, spends the major portion of the year in El Nacimiento-about 130 miles southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas-but still lives a seminomadic life that has been adapted to modern economic conditions. In middle to late May most of the residents of Nacimiento divide into family-based bands and set out across Texas and other western states to work as migrant agricultural laborers. By late October or early November the bands make their way back to Nacimiento, where they pass the winter hunting, planting crops, raising cattle, and participating in religious ceremonies. Though some earn money by selling agricultural products and crafts, most depend upon federal and Texas welfare programs to supplement their meager income."...

The hotel at the Kickapoo Reservation had only been opened a few months when we visited.  Everything was still in good condition, so the small, almost utilitarian bathrooms were acceptable.  The bedrooms were clean and adequate also and the food was good, not great, good.

The casino was enormous and all on one level.  It has 150,000 square foot of gaming space featuring 1,900 gaming machines and 22 table and poker games.  There are 3 restaurants two bars, a bingo hall and a live entertainment area.

Probably our biggest issue, after the obvious lack of oversight, (obvious not because we didn't win even small amounts, but we saw no winners in the two days we were there, and that is unusual), was the lack of complementary alcohol while gambling, hard to understand as I suspect that they would make more money from 'merry' gamblers than from those totally sober.  A complaint I had was the complete lack of a decent cup of coffee, but that is a problem I have learned to live with in Texas.

We support the lobby to legalize gambling in Texas, along with about 80% of Texans, what can be wrong with creating more jobs and keeping Texans spending their gambling, eating, drinking and entertainment dollars in Texas?