Oklahoma’s Republican Governor, Kevin Stitt, announced that the state’s new gambling compacts with two tribal nations have finally been granted federal government approval. However, Gov. Stitt remains embroiled in a legal fight on tribal gaming, with resistance from other tribes as well as members of his own political party.
Oklahoma’s compacts with the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe were approved by the US Department of the Interior (DOI) after the 45-day review period expired.
The compacts allow the tribes to offer new gambling markets, such as sports betting, and to construct casinos in closer proximity to metropolitan areas. Under the compact, the state would gain a larger share of the prospective casinos’ revenue.
There is no word on when new casinos can be built under the new terms. Stitt praised the tribes in a statement, saying that their leaders showed great foresight in negotiations, which would benefit tribal citizens as well as the Oklahoma gaming market.
Governor Kevin Stitt
The state’s Attorney General Mike Hunter, who is a Republican, termed the DOI’s approval as irresponsible. Hunter had previously stated that Gov. Stitt had gone beyond his legal authority with the compacts and encouraged the DOI to reject them.
Hunter argued that the tribes are currently unable to operate under the compact terms, due to the pending questions that have to be resolved in the Oklahoma Supreme Court. With sports betting still being illegal in Oklahoma, the new casinos from these two tribes would face strong opposition from the tribes who are currently operating within the areas.
More Legal Battles on the Horizon for Stitt
The Chickasaw Nation’s senior counsel, Stephen Greetham, stated that the new authorized compacts only meant that they did not violate federal law. Greetham noted that the compacts will likely face more legal hurdles in the future before any of the tribes can capitalize. The Chickasaw Nation was one of the tribes that filed a lawsuit against Stitt over the compacts.
Stitt remains embroiled in a legal battle with 10 other tribal nations in the state, including three of the most powerful—the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the Chickasaw —all of whom filed a lawsuit against him last year.
The main issue of their dispute is whether the gambling compacts the tribes signed with the state 15 years ago involved an automatic renewal on January 1, 2020. Stitt believes that the compacts expired on that day, while the tribes maintain that they accomplished all requirements to extend the compacts by another 15 years.