The stand-off between the Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt over tribal gaming compacts shows no sign of abating, with Stitt insisting that they will not renew automatically after January 1, 2020. He has, however, said that he will speak directly with Cherokee officials to renegotiate the exclusive compacts and will extend the New Year deadline to facilitate those talks.
Quoted in the Cherokee Phoenix, Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill described the impasse as “a difficult situation”, saying: “The governor does have the ability to request to renegotiate fees and exclusivity under parts 11A and E, but he has not sent any proposal for how he thinks fees or exclusivity should change, which the tribes have requested on several occasions.”
According to Hill, the tribe is prepared to defend its gaming business in court. She said in the report: “If we are drawn into litigation, we are prepared to protect the Nation’s rights, and our gaming operations under the agreement. The tribe’s legal case is extremely solid. It’s obvious the compacts renew.”
The stand-off appears to revolve around Stitt’s assertions that Oklahoma tribes should be paying up to 25% of their revenue to secure exclusive gaming rights. Currently they pay between 4% and 10%.
For now, the tribes have made it clear that they will open their casinos for business as usual on January 1 and will take on a legal battle if necessary to resolve the issue. Industry observers shouldn’t have too long to wait to see who blinks first.