The Cherokee Nation breaks ground on the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, on May 20, 2019. Photo: Cherokee Nation

Kimberly Teehee: The strength of Oklahoma lies in its people

The following is a statement from Kimberly Teehee, the Vice President of Government Relations for Cherokee Nation Businesses, regarding Class III gaming compact negotiations in Oklahoma. Teehee is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

Oklahoma tribes have enjoyed a cooperative relationship with the state of Oklahoma for 15 years, and our gaming compact continues to be beneficial for all Oklahomans.

Comparing commercial tax rates in other states to exclusivity fees paid by Oklahoma tribes is an apples-to-oranges comparison. Tribes differ from commercial casino operators in many ways.

Commercial casino operators do not pave roads in their states, build homes for people in their communities, provide college scholarships to needy students or keep hospitals open in rural, underserved communities.

Image and photo courtesy Cherokee Nation

Commercial operators are often headquartered in faraway places like Las Vegas. Tribal gaming operators are headquartered locally, where the Cherokee Nation’s 11,500 employees live, send our kids to school, and care about the long-term health of our state. Unlike commercial operators, we are a corporate headquarters that will never leave Oklahoma.

The Cherokee Nation – state of Oklahoma gaming compact outlines that we pay exclusivity fees that range from 4% to 10% of revenues on Class III games. However, our broader impact on the state’s economy and all Oklahomans is felt through our investments in health care, education, housing, infrastructure and core services that the state of Oklahoma is often unable to provide.

The strength of Oklahoma lies in its people, so we look forward to sharing more with state leaders how Oklahoma’s economy is enriched by the nearly 40 tribes that call Oklahoma home.

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