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US – Oklahoma tribes opposed to renegotiation of gaming compacts

By - 15 July 2019

The leaders of five of Oklahoma’s biggest tribes have united to oppose Governor Kevin Stitt’s plan to renegotiate gaming compacts in Oklahoma tribes by the end of the year.

The compact currently allows the state to take four to six per cent in fees from tribe-owned casinos, equating to about $140m each year.

Tribal leaders, including Bill John Baker, Principal Chief, The Cherokee Nation, Bill Anoatubby, Governor, The Chickasaw Nation, Gary Batton, Chief, The Choctaw Nation, James R. Floyd, Principal Chief, The Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Greg Chilcoat, Chief, The Seminole Nation said they are concerned that fees will increase following a renegotiation.

The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes signed a joint resolution this week to oppose Stitt’s proposition.
They said: “We have considered the state of Oklahoma a trustworthy partner through the years. Working together we have made strides in building a better, stronger and more prosperous Oklahoma for the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of members of our Tribes who live and work here as well as all residents of this great State. We can trace the starting point of our constructive partnership to the carefully crafted and balanced approach represented in the current compact negotiated in a respectful manner between the State of Oklahoma and the sovereign Tribes residing in Oklahoma.

“This compact represents a continuing and mutually beneficial partnership. The recent action of Governor Stitt puts into question his sincerity to work with us in a cooperative manner moving ahead. We are resolute in our position, and it is our hope Governor Stitt and his advisors will not attempt any bad faith interference on the compact which could set back the progress we have achieved by working together.”

Governor Stitt said: “Oklahoma is comprised of 39 federally-recognised tribes and roughly 4 million people, and I was elected to give a fresh eye to all agreements, laws, and actions by state government and to make the hard decisions that consider every individual who calls this great state home. Dating back to the campaign, I was transparent and clear that, as governor, I would seek a fair-market deal regarding the State’s Tribal Gaming Compacts that expire on January 1, 2020. T

“This 15-year-old compact established some of the lowest gaming fees in the nation, and the tribes have been fantastic, successful business leaders in our state, turning their gaming industry in Oklahoma into the third largest in the nation today. I am committed to open discussions with all Tribal partners and to achieving an outcome that spurs more funding for public education, grows opportunity for the tribes, and is a successful partnership for the state and future generations of Oklahomans.”

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