Naskila Gaming is Trying to Reach Texas Sports Betting Enthusiasts

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 8, 2023 12:00 AM
A gaming facility has angered Texas sports betting opponents by declaring themselves a casino.

With sports betting in Texas on hold until at least next year, one tribal gaming facility is using the current set of circumstances to their advantage. And not everyone is happy about it.

In an attempt to captivate those who feel jilted by the absence of Texas sports betting, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas has commissioned roadside billboards advertising their Naskila Gaming facility—or, as they call it, their Naskila Casino. The wording has, naturally, confused more than a handful of people.

Casinos, as you may know, remain illegal in Texas. The state legislature considered numerous proposals that would have "commercialized" the industry during this year's session, but none of them ever gained enough traction.

So, how is Alabama-Coushatta able to operate the Naskila Gaming facility, let alone advertise it as a casino? What's the purpose behind this campaign? How is Texas responding to it? Should we expect more gaming facilities to follow their lead? What type of impact, if any, might this have on the future of Texas sports betting? We're here to answer all these questions—and more.

Why Isn't the Alabama-Coushatta's Texas Casino Considered Illegal?

First thing's first: How is the Alabama-Coushatta's Naskila Gaming facility considered legal in the current Texas gambling climate? Because it's classified as an exception to the law. Here's Derek Helling of PlayUSA with more:

"Naskila Casino only offers electronic bingo terminals, more than 800 of them to be exact. Under United States law, registered tribes can offer such gaming on their lands with zero involvement from the governments of states surrounding those lands. Thus, Texas doesn’t have a say in the matter.

"[However, Naskila Casino] is subject to federal regulations pertaining to its gaming. Two other tribal gaming facilities exist within Texas’ borders but none of them offer any games that would run afoul of Texas law. In addition to the electronic bingo games, the Naskila Casino also offers dining options to guests and a rewards system for players. That’s all part of what the Naskila Gaming billboards intend to draw attention to."

This is a key factor many folks miss when approaching the Texas sports betting discussion. Many of the legal-gambling bills have sought to commercialize the casino industry as part of the process. The "commercialization" doesn't consist of allowing non-tribal entities to operate casinos. It's instead a nod to the types of gaming options that can be offered. Commercialized casinos can have table games—in addition to sportsbooks.

The Naskila Casino is essentially a video-only establishment. Every gaming option they offer is controlled via microchips. Coupled with Texas laws on sovereign territory, this is why they're immune from the state's larger casino laws.

Why is Naskila Gaming Suddenly Investing in Billboards that Appeal to Texas Sports Betting and Casino Supporters?

After the most recent Texas sports betting bill fell short, the Naskila Gaming facility invested money in a new advertising strategy, commissioning billboards that directed prospective clients to their Livingston location. The overarching message of these billboards, while straightforward, is considered somewhat controversial: "We’re a Texas casino."

That statement runs directly counter to Texas gambling laws. But as we already know, the Naskila Gaming facility is a legal operation. Does that mean this messaging is allowed? Policymakers across the state are debating as much as you read this. To date, though, nobody has found any wrongdoing.

This raises the question: Why are the Alabama-Coushatta's Naskila Gaming rolling out this marketing campaign now? The answer is quite simple: to capitalize on the rising interest of legal gambling in The Lone Star State.

Indeed, another failed attempt to legalize sports betting might suggest Texans are against the concept. And some do remain opponents. But multiple polls have shown the majority of residents favor some form of sports betting and casino expansion. Geotracking data has also revealed that the number of Texans attempting to sign up with the best online sportsbooks in the United States continues to grow year over year.

Clearly, there is a market in Texas for additional casino gaming and actual sports betting. And if we're being honest, the Naskila Gaming facility is smart to try exploiting that interest. They can't offer remote wagering options for customers, but their marketing campaign will at the very least appeal to potential nearby clients who may not have considered them a viable alternative before.

Could This Casino Marketing Campaign Have an Impact on the Status of Texas Sports Betting?

Some might reflexively assume that Naskila Gaming's casino campaign will delay the consideration of legalizing Texas casinos and sports betting. In truth, it probably has no impact.

Policymakers won't seek to shoot down Texas sports betting again just because of one tribe's marketing campaign. If anything, the strategy employed by Naskila Gaming should inspire lawmakers to push more aggressively for legal gambling.

Like every other gaming facility allowed by Texas law, Naskila Gaming does not have to pay state taxes on their revenue. Any extra money being spent there is, in theory, missed opportunities for Texas. If The Lone Star State allowed online sports betting and more casino options, they'd be able to capitalize on the business. Instead, they currently sit back and watch Naskila Gaming make a mockery of their gambling laws, profit off it and then not pay a dime in state taxes.

Just so we're clear: Naskila Gaming will not inspire some previously unexplored interest in Texas sports betting. We know the state has already considered it. This won't change that. It could, however, draw attention to the fact that Texas continues to leave money on the table.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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