State AG Calls Oklahoma Gov. Plan to Put Casino Revenue Share Payments in Escrow Illegal

State AG Calls Oklahoma Gov. Plan to Put Casino Revenue Share Payments in Escrow Illegal

Kevin Stitt, governor of Oklahoma, has been in a heated debate with the state’s tribes over a new tribal gaming compact. He doesn’t intend to use the casino revenue-share payments on education, suggesting that the money is in dispute.

Tribes contend the idea

According to the state’s tribes, the revenue share payment is not a dispute and the tribes are making payments like they usually do. Last year, their total payment was $138.6 million. Now, the State Attorney General Mike Hunter has punctured Stitt’s plans. In an opinion on Stitt’s plans to keep revenue share payments in an escrow account while the government settled a federal lawsuit with the tribes, the AG said that the governor violated state law.

State AG Calls Oklahoma Gov. Plan to Put Casino Revenue Share Payments in Escrow Illegal

Note that Stitt and the tribes have been fighting over the tribal gaming compact. Stitt suggests that the compacts signed with the tribes 15 years ago ended on December 31, 2019, and they must renegotiate the contract to get higher revenue shares. He has also threatened to bring commercial casino establishments in the state. On the other hand, the tribes suggest that the contract auto-renewed and are paying revenue shares at the previously negotiated rates.

Stitt also suggests that tribes should pay more money for their gaming rights. He also supports the idea that Class III operators in the state are violating laws by offering table games and slots in 2020 when a new gaming compact has not been negotiated. He even suggested the state to look for alternative means of funding education while the dispute with the tribes is pending settlement.

The tribes continue to claim that the Brad Henry government in 2004 intended to roll over the revenue-share agreements upon expiry of the 15-year term.

What choice does Stitt have?

Stitt may not have any other choice than to spend the money he has put in an escrow. He will have to release funds to the state’s education programs. AG Hunter noted,

“We are not aware of any authority by which the State can deposit these monies in any fund other than those already mentioned. State agencies have only those powers granted by law, by constitution, or statute, and those officials and agencies cannot expand those powers by their own authority.”

Hunter also mentioned that by continuing to accept payments from the tribes, the state would not compromise its position in the legal case against the tribes.

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.