Naskila Gaming joins Conroe chamber as it fights to stay open

The Conroe Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting Nov. 1. (Eva Vigh, Community Impact Newspaper)
The Conroe Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting Nov. 1. (Eva Vigh, Community Impact Newspaper)

The Conroe Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting Nov. 1. (Eva Vigh, Community Impact Newspaper)

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The newest member of the Conroe Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce is fighting with the state of Texas to remain open—and turning to cities such as Conroe for support.

On Nov. 1, the chamber held a ribbon-cutting for Naskila Gaming, an electronic bingo facility in Polk County that is a popular destination for Conroe and Montgomery County residents, gaming officials said. The facility sits on tribal land of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.

Naskila Gaming has been under fire from the state since it opened in 2016, gaming officials said. But until there is a federal Supreme Court ruling affirming the state can shut the facility down, Naskila Gaming will remain in operation, according to the facility.

“We abide by the rules and regulations,” said Nita Battise, the secretary for the tribal council. “Yet we still have to fight in the courts ... [and] the attorney general feels what we are doing is against Texas law.”

Tribes retain their authority to conduct, license and regulate Class II gaming—or bingo—as long as the state in which the tribe is located permits such gaming and the tribal government adopts a gaming ordinance approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission, according to Naskila Gaming. Some officials, including Sen. John Cornyn, have publicly condemned the facility, saying it goes against Texas law.

Naskila Gaming is pushing the U.S. Senate to pass House Resolution 759, a federal bill that would allow the tribe to offer electronic bingo on their reservations, Battise said. The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 759 in July.

In the meantime, Naskila Gaming is garnering support from surrounding communities, Battise said.

Although the Conroe Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce has not officially voiced support for the facility, Naskila Gaming officials will give a presentation to the Conroe chamber at its Nov. 21 board meeting to provide information on the issue, chamber President Brian Bondy said. Bondy said it is not likely any action will be taken at the meeting.

Tony Averitt, Naskila Gaming’s executive director of community development, said Conroe is an important market for the facility.

“There’s a lot of business synergy,” he said.

Since 2016, more than 10,000 Conroe residents and 40,000 Montgomery County residents have joined the Naskila Gaming Players Club, which offers incentives and discounts for its total 300,000 members, Averitt said.

Naskila Gaming is also hoping to extend its bus shuttle service, which currently ends in Spring, up to Conroe’s park and ride in first quarter of 2020, Averitt said.

Multiple Conroe and Montgomery residents voiced support of Naskila Gaming, such as Conroe resident Sharon Peterson, who said she visits the facility once a month.

“It should stay open,” she said. “It’s a lot easier to drive ... there compared to [Louisiana].”
By Eva Vigh
Eva Vigh joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 as a reporter for Spring and Klein. Prior to this position, she covered upstream oil and gas news for a drilling contractors' association.