OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) –Days after Governor Kevin Stitt announced that he was changing course related to the renegotiation of the gaming compact, we’re getting a better look at the newly proposed deal.
Currently, Native American tribes pay Oklahoma more than $140 million a year in gaming exclusivity fees from casinos. However, some state leaders say it is time for that to change.
Oklahoma tribes earn $4.5 billion each year thanks to casino-style gaming. Of that money, anywhere from 4 to 10 percent goes back to the state in exclusivity fees.
Since the 15-year deal between the state and the tribes is set to expire in January, Gov. Kevin Stitt recently sent a letter to 35 tribal leaders saying it is time to renegotiate the terms of the agreement.
The tribes have contended the compact automatically renews if new agreements aren’t reached, but the governor disagrees.
With two weeks until the deadline, Gov. Stitt announced that he was changing course.
“The state cannot reach an agreement that meets the needs of every tribe within the next 18 days,” Stitt said during a news conference on Tuesday.
Stitt said if an agreement wasn’t reached, that Class III gaming would be illegal in Oklahoma on Jan. 1, 2020.
“I am announcing today that the State of Oklahoma will be requesting tribal leaders to join me to sign an extension to the gaming compact,” Stitt said.
Tribal leaders said they didn’t want to comment on the compact extension until seeing the document.
Now, we’re getting a better idea of what that extension includes.
On Wednesday, Gov. Stitt sent a letter to the tribes, which would extend the gaming compact’s deadline to Aug. 31, 2020.
“The State of Oklahoma is offering an extension to all current gaming compacts between tribes and the State in order to allow us the necessary time to negotiate,” said Gov. Stitt in a letter to tribes. “An extension will also alleviate any questions or concerns that lenders, employees, entertainers, vendors, and patrons have concerning whether the Class III gaming activities at the casinos are legal as of January 1, 2020.
Officials with the governor’s office say the extension doesn’t amend any other part of Part 15B.