Tribal leaders oppose two others trying to intervene in gaming compact lawsuit

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As officials still battle over tribal gaming compacts in the state, tribal leaders are speaking out against two tribes that are trying to intervene in the lawsuit.

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.

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Last year, Gov. Kevin Stitt sent a letter to 35 tribal leaders saying it was time to renegotiate the terms of the agreement.

However, the tribes have contended the compact automatically renews if new agreements aren’t reached.

When an agreement wasn't reached, several tribes filed a federal lawsuit against Stitt. They said they wanted a federal judge to decide where to go from here.

According to the Associated Press, the tribes involved in the lawsuit are opposing requests by two other tribes to intervene.

The Dec. 31 lawsuit by the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations asks a federal judge to determine whether compacts allowing gambling exclusively at tribal casinos automatically renewed Jan. 1.

Mediation was ordered after Gov. Kevin Stitt asked the judge to order the casinos to stop offering certain games, including electronic and table games.

Right now, tribes are opposing requests by the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Kialegee Tribal Town, arguing that they have no valid claim.

The motions to intervene say the tribes seek to protect their “inherent sovereignty” and determine how their rights are defended in mediation.

The two tribes are to respond by Tuesday.

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