Oklohoma’s tribal casinos are continuing to trade as normal, despite Governor Kevin Stitt’s assertion that their exclusive compacts would not be automatically renewed on January 1 this week. The standoff continues, but with the added complication of a federal lawsuit brought by three of the state’s most powerful tribes.
According to the Associated Press, the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations have asked a federal judge to determine that the state compacts allowing gambling exclusively at tribal casinos automatically renewed on January 1 for another 15-year term. They argue that all the conditions have been met for the compacts to renew as normal.
The AP referenced a joint letter from Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin, Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby and Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton to Stitt. It noted: “For some time, we have tried to establish meaningful intergovernmental engagement regarding our gaming compacts, but you have continued to reject our compacts’ plain terms. Recently, you have gone further, stating allegations against us and threats to our operations.”
Stitt, however, continues to insist that the gaming compacts have expired this week, ostensibly rendering casino gambling illegal. He has also suggested that the terms of the compacts be renegotiated in order to give the state a larger portion of revenue, up to 25% of their revenue to secure exclusive gaming rights. Currently they pay between 4% and 10%.
An attempt by the Governor in December to extend the compacts while negotiations continued was rejected by most of the tribes.
He was quoted by the AP as saying: “The state of Oklahoma offered an extension, with no strings attached, to all tribes that operate casinos in the state, and my door continues to be open for more tribes to join who are worried about impending uncertainty.”