- Governor Kevin Stitt signed a new tribal gaming compact with the Otoe-Missouri Tribe and Comanche Nation last month, which gave them the right to host casinos sportsbooks.
- Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter issued a legal opinion stating that Kevin Stitt overstepped his legal authority when awarding sports betting in Oklahoma.
- The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association has now suspended those two tribes until the end of 2020.
OKLAHOMA CITY – On Thursday, the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) effectively suspended two of its members, the Otoe-Missouri Tribe and Comanche Nation, for signing a new tribal gaming compact with Governor Kevin Stitt last month.
The new compacts gave the tribes the ability to host Oklahoma sportsbooks at their casinos.
“This was a difficult decision to make, but it was the correct one,” said Matthew L. Morgan, chairman of the OIGA. Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association works best when its membership can speak frankly and with the trust that all members are working together to support our industry as a whole.”
Both tribes feel as though their compacts signed with Governor Stitt were in good faith and that they are entitled to the terms of the new gaming compacts.
“The Otoe-Missouria Tribe is a sovereign nation and we negotiated a legal compact with the Governor of the State of Oklahoma,” said John R. Shotton, chairman of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. “We plan to follow the federal process for approval of the negotiated compact. Regardless of the opinion of the OIGA, there are not hierarchies of sovereign nations in Indian Country. Each tribe has the right to negotiate the best compact available for their tribal government. We still support the intentions of other tribes to fight for the very best compact for their individual governments. I certainly hope as negotiations continue, other tribes won’t be singled out for exercising their tribal sovereignty.”
When it comes to the issue of sports betting in Oklahoma specifically, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter issued out a legal opinion stating that Governor Stitt overstepped his legal authority when giving the tribes this new type of gambling to offer.
The tribes have since responded claiming that the issue of sports betting is between the Governor and the Attorney general and is not a fight they will get involved in.
Why The Suspension
Tensions between the tribes and the state of Oklahoma began at the start of 2020.
Governor Stitt believed that the start of the new year meant that the state’s original tribal gaming compact was expired and that a new compact needed to be renegotiated. The tribes felt otherwise and were under the impression that the compacts would automatically renew.
Governor Stitt declared that tribal gaming was illegal until the renegotiated compacts took place. The tribes responded by jointly filing a federal lawsuit against the state in response to his claims. That lawsuit is still in progress.
However, rather than signing an all-inclusive gaming compact with the tribes, Governor Stitt decided it would be best to sign compacts with individual tribes.
The compacts signed last month gave the Otoe-Missouri Tribe and Comanche Nation the ability to offer sports betting in Oklahoma as well as other games. The state would then take a smaller percentage of taxes since there would be more games offered.
While the compacts signed benefited the two individual tribes that signed them, the OIGA didn’t feel they helped the association as a whole.
– In his career, Hasan has worked both local and state government positions—including the Attorney General’s Office in Florida. On top of being familiar with the legislative process, he has also been researching and writing on the legality of sports betting across the US. Outside of work you’ll most likely find him producing or playing music, playing sports, or working on creative writing projects. You’ll also catch him at Doak Campbell Stadium cheering on the Noles.