TULSA, Okla. — A federal judge ruled in favor of several Oklahoma tribes on the state’s gaming compact which the governor said had expired and made tribal gaming in the state “illegal.”
Governor Kevin Stitt said the tribes needed to renegotiate a completely new gaming compact in a public fight between the state and numerous tribes that began nearly a year ago.
Chief U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma Timothy DeGiusti wrote in an order Tuesday the tribal gaming compact automatically renewed at the beginning of the year and is valid for 15 years.
Leaders from several tribal nations in the state had argued they didn’t need to renegotiate a new compact with the state.
“The Cherokee Nation is pleased with today’s ruling which affirms what our tribal nations have known from the beginning, that our gaming compacts with the state of Oklahoma renewed on Jan. 1 for another 15 years,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement.
The compact currently allows the state to take 4 to 6 percent in fees from tribe-owned casinos, which adds up to about $140 million a year.
“Tribal gaming in this state will continue to be strong, not only for tribes, but for all of Oklahoma, contributing vital education dollars into our public schools and bolstering health care, roads and communities,” Hoskin said. “Everything in our compact now remains the same, and we hope we can move forward and build a relationship built on respect with Gov. Stitt in the future.”
The state has until Aug. 7 to respond to the court’s ruling.