Tribes Of Oklahoma Sue Governor Over Casino Compacts

The next move has been taken with the struggle between the native Indian tribes of Oklahoma and the governor. Governor Kevin Stitt wants the tribes to sit down at the table and renegotiate their gaming compacts, which expired at the end of 2019, while the tribes contend that the deals rolled over to 2020 easily and lawfully.

Three state tribes are now suing the governor over the calamity and requesting a federal court to decide what course of action is required.

According to AP News, the Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes have asked a federal judge to provide clarification as to whether the compacts have rolled over or whether it is time to negotiate new revenue-sharing agreements, as Stitt said. Stitt was open to his view that the tribes need to give up more of the profits to live in Oklahoma and use the treaty expiry as a tool to make sweeping changes.

The tribes claim that the compacts, which were automatically renewed as of January 1 for another 15 years, are still entitled to the same exclusivity previously provided by the agreements. Assert Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby and Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton in this week’s joint letter to Stitt, 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.”

Oklahoma is home to 39 federally recognised Indian tribes, two of whom, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee and the Kialegee Tribal Center, have already worked out an eight-month extension of their compacts with the government. Stitt has indicated that he is “disappointed” with the inability of the remaining tribes to negotiate with him, adding, “The state of Oklahoma has offered an extension, without any strings attached, to all the 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.”

The tribes have never said they are unwilling to negotiate their revenue-sharing arrangements for their part. Both suggested, however, that they would only be able to do so if Stitt publicly admitted that as of January 1, the compacts were auto-renewed. The governor is still unwilling to recognise this, partly out of concern that it would impede his ability to seek a larger piece of gambling revenue from the tribes. At the moment they are giving around 4-10%, and Stitt is looking for as much as 25%.