A view of the gaming floor at a gaming facility owned and operated by the Cherokee Nation in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. Photo: I-5 Design & Manufacture

Proposal to link gaming expansion to car tags in Oklahoma gains little traction

Key tribes in Oklahoma are questioning plans to expand gaming by linking it to car tag revenues.

The Cherokee Nation said it wasn't consulted about the proposal even though the tribe is the only one with a car tag compact, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement to The Oklahoman. The Cherokees are the largest in the state in terms of citizenship, so their interests would be significantly affected.

"It's unfortunate that Cherokee Nation and other tribes were not consulted on the proposal," Hoskin said in the statement. "We've reached out to his office to learn more about his plan."

The Chickasaw Nation wasn't embracing the plan either. The tribe owns the largest number of casinos in the state,

“It is early in the process, but we are evaluating the proposal and looking forward to a constructive conversation with our state government partners," a spokesperson told The Oklahoman.

Even lawmakers questioned the proposal, which was outlined by Rep. Kevin Wallace (R), the chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, on Tuesday. Some told The Tulsa World that the issue shouldn't be considered during an upcoming special legislative session.

Wallace is proposing to authorize roulette and dice games as part of a new Class III gaming compact. But there's a catch -- tribes must forego "rebates" on their car tag revenues in exchange.

In the past, other lawmakers have attempted to link non-gaming matters, such as tobacco taxes, to the compact. Historically, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has frowned upon such efforts, especially if they are seen as an attempt to extract more revenues from tribes.

Under the existing agreement, which was authorized by voters in 2004, tribes have shared more than $1.1 billion with the state. In fiscal year 2016, the state collected more than $132 million, a record amount, according to the most recent annual report.

The first compacts that were signed and approved by the BIA are due to expire in 2020.

Read More on the Story:
Indian gaming expansion proposed by House budget chairman (The Oklahoman September 12, 2017)
Gambling expansion proposal gets no traction in the Senate (The Tulsa World September 13, 2017)
Lawmaker proposes increasing gaming at casinos to offset Oklahoma budget hole (KTUL September 13, 2017)

An Opinion:
Editorial: Budget proposal isn't the right one (The Tulsa Wrold September 14, 2017)

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Republican lawmaker links expansion of gaming to car tag revenues in Oklahoma (September 12, 2017)

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