Twenty-nine tribal leaders despatched a letter to Gov. Stitt saying they “stand united” on the subject of Oklahoma’s Gaming Compact. The letter adopted the governor’s announcement in early July that he desires to renegotiate the settlement, which permits tribes to function on line casino video games in change for giving the state a proportion of their income by way of “exclusivity fees.”
“To have that many tribes come together that quickly on a single position… I think that is remarkably significant,” stated Stephen Greetham, Common Counsel for the Chickasaw Nation. Chickasaw Gov. Invoice Anoatubby is among the letter’s signatories.
Oklahoma is house to 39 tribes, and 31 of them recreation. The letter was despatched by the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Affiliation, or OIGA, a commerce group representing many of the gaming tribes.
Tribes at the moment pay exclusivity charges between four and ten percent, relying on the kind of recreation. Stitt presumably desires a bigger share of gaming income, however the tribes say they’re against that.
A Rocky Begin
Stitt introduced his intention to renegotiate the Gaming Compact in an opinion piece printed by the Tulsa World on July 8. According to OIGA Chairman Matthew Morgan that was earlier than the governor reached out to particular person tribal leaders.
“I think tribal leaders were caught off guard,” Morgan stated. “We’re looking, I think, for him to maybe step back for a second… and then to talk to tribes on a government to government basis.”
Tribes produce other objections, too.
Stitt claims the present compact will terminate on Jan. 1, 2020 except a brand new phrases are reached. The compact clearly states, nevertheless, that the settlement will renew routinely on that day with or with out renegotion. Stitt additionally asserted that “most state-tribal compacts around the country provide for exclusivity fees to the state of 20% to 25%.” However a 2015 study by the Authorities Accountability Workplace reveals that merely isn’t true.
Tribal gaming was authorised by voters in 2004, and it’s a important income for tribal governments in Oklahoma. It’s also an financial driver for the state, in response to OIGA’s most up-to-date analysis. In 2016 the group reported their trade supported near 28,000 jobs in Oklahoma.
“If you go around and talk to the tribal leaders, a phrase you’ll probably hear pretty consistently is, ‘Why fix what isn’t broken?’” Greetham defined.
To ensure that tribes to come back to the desk, Morgan says the state might want to provide them one thing “of value.” For instance, in 2018, amendments to the compact allowed tribes to supply desk video games that had been beforehand prohibited in change for a better exclusivity payment. Greetham says providing entry to on-line betting may very well be a conversation-starter.
Donelle Tougher, a spokesperson for Gov. Stitt, issued the next assertion Monday:
“The governor is meeting with and reaching out to our tribal partners. Conversations are ongoing, and the governor is confident we can come to an agreement that enhances opportunity for the tribes, as sovereign nations and partners, and continues to move Oklahoma forward to the benefit of all 4 million residents.”