EL PASO, Texas - Illegal casino, or not?
The state of Texas believes the Tiguas have been running a gambling operation at Speaking Rock for years and it wants access to videotape in order to prove it.
If it is determined the Tiguas are running an illegal gambling operation instead of just "sweepstakes" gaming, they could face a fine for every day they've done so. That fine could be enormous and the determining factor may come down to whether the state is given the video it's requesting.
ABC-7 attempted to shoot video outside Speaking Rock's main location and the Socorro Entertainment Center on Tuesday. The crew was quickly being asked to leave.
The casino was closed by the state in 1999, but was quickly reopened as a "sweepstakes only" gaming operation, offering prizes instead of cash as rewards.
Now the State is pushing to obtain what it calls proof the Tiguas have continued to violate state law. A flurry of motions were filed last month in an attempt to obtain access to Speaking Rock. Judge Kathleen Cardone ordered the two sides to work out a date.
The possible dates for videotaping included this week. It's unclear whether the two sides have settled on when or if that would happen.
In court documents filed on April 25th, the state argues: "The reason videotaping of the operations at Speaking Rock and Socorro is so important is that the determination of whether a sweepstakes game is an illegal lottery is not determined by the software alone -- it is the casino-like atmosphere combined with inconsistent oral and nonverbal communications that drives the final resolution."
In a motion filed April 28th, attorneys for the Tiguas argued: "Videotaping as the state has proposed will be extremely intrusive, disruptive, and is unnessary given the state cannot articulate an evidentiary basis upon which the videotape would ever be admissible."
ABC-7 has yet to hear back from the state attorney general's office on the amount of possible fines the Tiguas could face, if it is determined they are running an illegal gambling operation. Attempts to contact the Tigua's attorneys were unsuccessful. Both sides continue to gather evidence for the next hearing, which is scheduled for October in El Paso.