The Governor of Oklahoma Kevin Stitt has revealed that he is to take over the negotiations with Native American tribes regarding gambling operations. He has further shared intentions to hire an independent third-party legal team to participate in the negotiations.
Apart from taking over the talks from the Attorney General, Governor Stitt also revealed that he thinks about offering the tribes an extension allowing them to offer their casino gambling services in the state after January 1st when the current compact is set to expire. As Oklahoma’s Governor explained, the language of the extension would provide each of the parties who sign it the chance to retain its legal position until the talks are over. According to him, such a step would prevent disruptions of the businesses while the dispute is resolved.
Several months ago, the role of Oklahoma’s lead negotiator with the Native American tribes was occupied by Attorney General Mike Hunter. Now, the Governor would be the one leading the talks.
As CasinoGamesPro has previously reported, the state of Oklahoma and the local Indian Tribes had reached a deadlock in the negotiations regarding the 15-year agreements under which the Native American nations are given the exclusive right to offer casino gambling services on the territory of the state.
Indian Tribes Insist Their Compacts with the State Must Be Renewed Automatically
Now, Governor Stitt has been willing to renegotiate the agreements in order for the state to receive larger casino tax revenue.
So far, some tribal leaders have hinted they may reconsider the tax they pay on their casino revenue but they want first to receive the Governor’s acknowledgment that their compacts with the state would be renewed automatically. Under the existing gambling compacts of the Indian Tribal nations and the state, an amount of between 4% and 10% of their total gambling revenue is redirected to Oklahoma’s coffers. The state, however, wants to boost that tax rate to at least 25%, which would be the highest gambling tax rate paid by Indian tribes in the region.
Matt Morgan, Chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, declined to comment on the compacts’ extension saying he has not yet seen any written contracts yet. He also shared he was disappointed with Governor Stitt, saying that local tribal leaders had been clear since the start of the negotiations that they want their tribes’ compacts to be automatically renewed in order for the talks to proceed any further.
Mr. Morgan also explained that tribal casino operations in the state would probably hardly be disrupted after January 1st, but he also highlighted that the tribes are ready to take the matter to court in order for the argument to be finally resolved. It so happens that the Chickasaw Nation has already addressed the Department of Interior, so a legal fight may be closer than expected.