OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – State officials say they have signed new tribal gaming compacts with two Oklahoma tribes following a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Interior.
On Thursday, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that he had signed a new gaming compact with the Kialegee Tribal Town.
Under the terms of the compact, it classified the state’s fee structure for Class III games and table games as beginning at 12%. It also allows the tribe to build a gaming location in eastern Oklahoma County.
“By negotiating with each individual Oklahoma tribe, the State is seeking to level the playing field for all tribes and working to ensure that no one is held back by its size or resources from competing and pursuing economic growth for its citizens,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “The Kialegee Tribal Town is pursuing a sound business plan for its first gaming location in Oklahoma with their compact commitment to partner with another Tribe on this venture. They have been good faith partners in this process, and the State looks forward to supporting their efforts to strengthen opportunities for KTT citizens, to expand economic development in the region, and to generate new revenue for Oklahoma’s public education system.”
The state also announced a new compact with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.
Under the terms of that compact, the tribe will pay 12% fees for Class III games and table games. However, the tribe will also be able to build a gaming location in Logan County.
“One year after beginning gaming compact negotiations, the State has entered into its fourth compact that makes way for Oklahoma tribes to innovate and compete in a new, dynamic gaming market and strengthens State-Tribal relationships,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “The compact includes a commitment from the State to support the UKB’s pursuit of land for its first gaming location. This will enhance the UKB’s ability to deliver core government services to its 14,300 citizens while expanding economic development opportunities for all Oklahomans in the region.”
“It is both an honor and privilege to be announcing the signing of this economic venture between the great State of Oklahoma and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians,” said UKB Chief Joe Bunch. “We thank Governor Kevin Stitt and his administration for this monumental day and for their leadership efforts in this compact. It is a grand day for Keetoowahs and Native American tribes all over the country. It is a day when one of their own partnered with Oklahoma in building a stronger economy through the avenues of retail, food and beverage, hotel, hospitality and casino operations, all by a signing a Class III gaming compact with the state. This compact also presents an opportunity for the UKB to move forward and begin increasing health, education and job opportunities for our tribal members and elders, as well as our surrounding communities. After all, we know if our communities are doing well, the state is also doing well. Thank you and God bless the UKB and the State of Oklahoma.”
After the compact agreement was announced, the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association released the following statement:
“Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association respects that each sovereign Tribal Nation must decide for itself what is best for its citizens. Like many others, we listened carefully to the July 1 oral arguments before the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and we agree with Oklahoma’s legislative leadership and Attorney General Mike Hunter that Gov. Kevin Stitt unilaterally entering into new gaming agreements with Tribal Nations violates state law. For the past year, Gov. Stitt’s actions have caused unnecessary strife, costly litigation and have wasted the state’s resources.
The new agreements signed between Gov. Stitt and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma and Kialegee Tribal Town are neither legal nor helpful.”Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman Matthew L. Morgan.
Recently, the governor’s move of negotiating with individual tribes came under fire after he agreed to two new compacts with the Otoe-Missouria and Comanche tribes.
The compacts call for lower exclusivity fees, and allow sports betting and new casinos closer to larger cities.
Immediately, tribal attorneys and lawmakers were concerned about the legality of the compacts since sports betting is still illegal in Oklahoma.
Last month, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that it approved the compacts, meaning they are legal in Oklahoma.
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