U.S. Circuit Court silences Speaking Rock in Texas

Jan 22, 2002 3:11 AM


The State of Texas won a long-standing battle with the Tiguas tribe that resulted in the closing of Speaking Rock Casino.

“It turned my stomach to hear about it because there are a lot of jobs at stake,” El Paso County Judge Dolores Briones said of the decision made by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. “The livelihood of the tribe and the economic future of the valley rested on that,” she said.

Closing the estimated $60 million a year enterprise could result in a loss of 2,200 jobs citywide, according to the El Paso Times report.

State attorney general John Cornyn, who sued the Tiguas over the casino in 1999, said he was obligated to take action against illegal activity in Texas.

El Paso residents would have another gambling opportunity at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino, which recently completed a $15 million expansion. Sunland Park is just west of El Paso.

State Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso said one possible legislative remedy for the state’s three Indian tribes is to change the Texas Constitution, which prohibits gambling. Texas voters could decide to legalize gambling on the reservations.

Thursday’s ruling is also likely to affect the fledgling casino gaming operation on the Alabama-Coushatta Indian reservation in east Texas.

Kentucky spending

Casino boats on the Ohio River made $352 million from Kentucky patrons last year, an increase of $75 million from 1999.

A study released on bloodhorse.com calculated that Kentucky residents raised nearly $95 million in taxes from Indiana and Illinois, a 25 percent increase from the initial study two years ago.

The new study comes at a time when the Kentucky horse racing industry is floating the idea around the Capitol of allowing racetracks to operate video slot machines.

Proponents say the tracks need video slots in order to compete with casino boats floating on the Ohio River off the shorelines of Indiana and Illinois.

The study also said that 95 percent of the patrons live within 120 miles of the casino.

Argosy news good

Argosy Gaming said it had boosted its earnings estimates for the fourth quarter and full year, citing less uncertainty in the industry.

The Illinois-based company reported in an Associated Press story that its earnings rose from an expected 67 cents to 70 per share in the fourth quarter. The yearly mark of $2.22 per share wound up finishing at $2.25.

Argosy said the prior outlook was made regarding reaction surrounding the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Union stalls NY plans

Area union leaders in Buffalo and Niagara Falls are split over a mandate in the casino plan for New York State.

The debate, according to a story in The Buffalo News, centers around the Hotel and Restaurant Employees International Union, which scored a victory in October when legislation was approved mandating protection in any casino compact between the state and an Indian tribe.

The Seneca Indians have actively sought to add more casinos to the Buffalo and Niagara Falls area.

“We need these casino projects,” said Clyde J. Johnston, president of the Niagara County Building and Construction Trades. “We don’t want somebody from New York City coming down here and telling us what we need. It seems the hotel union is willing to jeopardize a $400 million project for our area.”

Black Hawk soars

December was very good for Black Hawk casino.

The Colorado gaming facility grew 17 percent last December with earnings of $41.7 million, compared to $35.6 million at the same period in 2000.

Nevada Gold & Casinos, which owns Black Hawk, attributed the rise to mild weather and being a new member in the gaming market.

The parent company for Black Hawk also owns 43 percent of the Isle of Capri Casino-Black Hawk through a joint venture with Isle of Capri Casinos. Black Hawk is the largest hotel/casino in Colorado.