OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City tribal leaders had a letter delivered to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office, expressing their views on the status of the Tribal-State Gaming Compacts.
“We remain united in our position that the plain meaning of the Compact language ‘shall automatically renew’ if the State takes governmental action to authorize electronic gaming at licensed racetracks on January 1, 2020, means exactly what it says,” the letter states.
The letter, signed by tribal leaders, denounced the state issuing licenses to horse tracks for electronic casino-style gaming, which would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Oklahoma’s 35 tribal nations remain firm that Native American-run casinos have exclusive rights to casino-style gaming.
“There is no credible legal argument to the contrary, as your continuing failure to provide us with a written legal analysis confirms. Since the compacts, by the terms approved and offered by over 850,000 Oklahomans in 2004, automatically renew, Class III Tribal Governmental Gaming on January 1, 2020, will continue to be lawful,” the letter states. “We will keep our promises and continue to send our exclusivity fees to the State.”
Native American tribes currently pay Oklahoma more than $140 million a year in gaming exclusivity fees from casinos. However, some state leaders are calling for a change.
Oklahoma tribes earn $4.5 billion each year from 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 sent a letter to 35 tribal leaders saying it is time to renegotiate the terms of the agreement.
However, Stitt recently announced that he was changing course, calling for an extension to the tribal gaming compact.
“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 cannot put Oklahoma in this position,” he said.
Click the below link to read the entire letter that tribal leaders sent to Stitt: