Supreme Court referee hears oral arguments in gaming compacts lawsuit

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – On Wednesday, a state supreme court referee heard oral arguments in a lawsuit over two new gaming compacts. 

Back in April, Governor Stitt announced two new compacts with the Otoe-Missoura and Comanche Tribes that he called a “win-win.” 

Now, Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall are suing Stitt because they say he didn’t have the authority to agree to those compacts.  

“Petitioners ask this court to declare the Governor’s actions unauthorized by law and the agreements void,” Attorney Cara Rodriguez said during oral arguments.

The lawsuit argues that not only does Stitt not have the power to make compacts on his own, without approval from the legislature, but the agreements include forms of gambling that are not legal in Oklahoma. 

Stitt’s attorney argues that not only does the governor have that power, he’s that only one that does.  

“The governor is the only actor vested with the authority to enter into gaming compacts with Indian tribes in Oklahoma,” Attorney Phillip Whaley said.

The Lawsuit contends that the governor can negotiate compacts on behalf of the state, but negotiating is not the same as agreeing to a deal.  

“Nothing prevents the governor from going to a tribe and talking, and reaching maybe even a tentative agreement,” State Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani said. “But he can not bind the state compacts, contrary to enacted public policy of the state.”

The supreme court has not set a time table on when it expect to make a decision on this case.

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