Oklahoma Governor Favors Commercial Casinos over Tribal Properties

Oklahoma Governor Favors Commercial Casinos over Tribal Properties

In yet another twist to the ongoing dispute between the state’s tribes and Gov. Kevin Stitt, the question of the governor’s ancestry has become a hot topic.

Stitt stands firmly against the tribes

The Republican governor of Oklahoma is sparing no room for the tribal properties of the state. Recently, he said that bringing commercial casinos to the state would be more profitable. He said that commercial properties will pay more taxes than the existing tribal gaming facilities. The dispute between him and a dozen of the state’s tribes regarding gaming operations is becoming bitter by the day.

Oklahoma Governor Favors Commercial Casinos over Tribal Properties

Stitt remains firm that the tribes’ 15-year gaming compacts expired on January 1, 2020, and they should get new contracts. However, the tribes suggest that in the absence of a new agreement, their old contracts get automatically renewed. The tribes hold Class III gaming contracts, which allow them to host table games and slot machines.

In February, US Western District Court Chief Judge Timothy DeGiusti urged the parties to end their dispute by March 31. He also ordered them to enter mediation.

The roots of the dispute

Stitt has previously threatened the tribes that he would bring in commercial casinos in the state if the tribes don’t agree to give a larger portion of casino wins to the government. According to a 2004 compact, the 35 tribes located in Oklahoma have to give 10% of their table game revenue to Oklahoma City. They also have to give 4% to 6% of their slot machine wins. Stitt wants to increase the slot machine GGR share to 25%; a massive 5x increase on the existing rates.

The state received $138.59 million from the tribes last year, of which 88% was directed to public education. Stitt estimates that four commercial casino licenses could bring the number up to $350 million. He said that it will be a win-win situation for everyone, even the tribes.

Interestingly, Stitt is himself a tribal. He is a member of one of the most powerful Native American groups of the state- the Cherokee Nation. The Native American communities are displeased with his stance. Rep. Collin Walke, who is the co-chair of the Native American legislative caucus of Oklahoma and a member of the Cherokee Nation has questioned if the Gov. used his ancestry only as a talking point. He also said that claiming a heritage and respecting a heritage are different things.

About sherlock

Sherlock Gomes loves to write and express his views on anything related to Gaming, Gambling, & Casino. He has been covering Gaming for more than two years now.