- Oklahoma tribal casinos are currently operating with expired contracts.
- Without being given their automatic renewal on their compacts, three of the 33 tribes running casinos in the state have filed a federal lawsuit against Oklahoma.
- Governor Kevin Stitt has said he has given every opportunity to the tribes to reach a resolution while negotiations take place.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma tribal compacts have expired, officially making gambling at many casinos in the state illegal as of January 1. Governor Kevin Stitt has made it clear that all casino activities should cease as the compacts were not renewed.
Three of the biggest tribes in the state, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations have come together to file a federal lawsuit against Oklahoma. Yet all the casinos of the Sooner State have continued to do business.
The lawsuit requests that the tribes receive a 15-year renewal, as is the standard amount on their compact renewals. There has never been an issue with automatic renewals of their compacts which is why they are refusing to stop doing business despite their compacts being void.
What Does This Mean For Gambling And Sports Betting In The State?
The tribes were offered extensions to their compacts by the governor until an agreement on a new compact could be met.
“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,” said Stitt in December.
Of the 33 tribes that run casino businesses in Oklahoma, only two have signed on for eight-month extensions which allow them to continue to legally do business. The Kialegee Tribal Town and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians have signed extensions.
“I appreciate the honesty and boldness of the Kialegee Tribal Town and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians who recognize the Jan. 1, 2020 expiration in the Model Gaming Compact and have signed on to the eight-month extension generously offered by the State,” said Stitt. “These extensions will enable the parties to negotiate a compact that better accounts for the differing needs of tribes throughout the state and the State’s interests in preserving the substantial exclusivity without a cloud of legal uncertainty.”
Negotiations on new compacts are at a standstill due to the requested changes by Stitt. In their previous agreements, the casinos had to pay gaming revenue in the amount of anywhere between 4% and 10%.
The governor is now seeking upwards of 25% or one-quarter of all revenue to be handed to the state. This number has been vetoed by almost all of the tribes in the business.
Despite countless efforts to meet and discuss new gaming contracts with the tribes, Stitt has not been able to get any meetings with them. Any hope for legal sports betting in Oklahoma will be gone if this issue does not come to any resolution.
The tribal casinos would be the place where the legal wagering on sports would take place. This latest lawsuit only prolongs the issue further.
“I am disappointed that a number of Oklahoma tribes, led by the Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Choctaw Nations, did not accept the State’s offer on Oct. 28 for a three-person arbitration panel to resolve our dispute outside of court. This was a capstone action to their numerous refusals to meet with the State and begin negotiations on the Model Gaming Compact to ensure a win-win for all parties by the end of this year. I was elected to represent all 4 million Oklahomans, and I will continue to be laser focused on an outcome that achieves a fair deal and is in the best interest of the state and its citizens,” said Stitt in response to the three tribes filing suit.
With the refusal of common ground and a federal lawsuit looming, the future of legal gaming in Oklahoma remains uncertain.
Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.