TULSA, Okla. - Gov. Kevin Stitt wants to renegotiate the state's gaming compact with native tribes by the end of the year.
The compact currently allows the state to take 4 to 6 percent in fees from tribe-owned casinos. It adds up to about $140,000,000 each year.
Tribal leaders said they are worried the fees could go up after a renegotiation and possibly reduce the amount of money going back into the tribes.
The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes signed a joint resolution this week to oppose Stitt's proposition.
“We have considered the state of Oklahoma a trustworthy partner through the years. Working together we have made strides in building a better, stronger and more prosperous Oklahoma for the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of members of our Tribes who live and work here as well as all residents of this great State. We can trace the starting point of our constructive partnership to the carefully crafted and balanced approach represented in the current compact negotiated in a respectful manner between the State of Oklahoma and the sovereign Tribes residing in Oklahoma. This compact represents a continuing and mutually beneficial partnership. The recent action of Governor Stitt puts into question his sincerity to work with us in a cooperative manner moving ahead. We are resolute in our position, and it is our hope Governor Stitt and his advisors will not attempt any bad faith interference on the compact which could set back the progress we have achieved by working together.”
Bill John Baker, Principal Chief, The Cherokee Nation
Bill Anoatubby, Governor, The Chickasaw Nation
Gary Batton, Chief, The Choctaw Nation
James R. Floyd, Principal Chief, The Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Greg P. Chilcoat, Chief, The Seminole Nation
Stitt responded to the joint resolution Friday:
“Oklahoma is comprised of 39 federally-recognized tribes and roughly 4 million people, and I was elected to give a fresh eye to all agreements, laws, and actions by state government and to make the hard decisions that consider every individual who calls this great state home. Dating back to the campaign, I was transparent and clear that, as governor, I would seek a fair-market deal regarding the State’s Tribal Gaming Compacts that expire on January 1, 2020. This 15-year-old compact established some of the lowest gaming fees in the nation, and the tribes have been fantastic, successful business leaders in our state, turning their gaming industry in Oklahoma into the third largest in the nation today. I am committed to open discussions with all Tribal partners and to achieving an outcome that spurs more funding for public education, grows opportunity for the tribes, and is a successful partnership for the state and future generations of Oklahomans.” –Governor Kevin Stitt
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