Posted by Grand Casino Resort on Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Hundreds of tribal officials attended a gaming compact meeting at the Grand Casino Hotel and Resort, owned and operated by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on October 28, 2019.

Tribes and state of Oklahoma remain far apart when it comes to gaming

Top officials in Oklahoma continue to insist they need to negotiate a new Class III gaming compact with tribes.

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, believes the compacts start to expire on January 1, 2020. With the deadline fast approaching, he's hoping to force tribes to come to the table and share more of their revenues with the state.

But after Stitt sent Attorney General Mike Hunter (R) to an initial meeting with tribal officials on Monday, little was resolved, according to news reports. Additional gatherings, however, are being planned.

"When we are all working together, I am confident the state and Oklahoma’s 39 tribes can achieve a win-win for all 4 million Oklahomans," Stitt, who took office in January, said in a statement on Monday.

Since 2004, when voters approved Class III gaming, tribes have paid $1.28 billion to the state, according to the Oklahoma Gaming Compliance Unit's most recent report. The money is derived from a percentage of electronic gaming revenue, as well as table game revenue.

"For the first $10 million in revenue, tribes pay 4 percent to the state; for the next $10 million, the payment is 5 percent; and for revenues more than $20 million, the payment is 6 percent. Tribes pay 10 percent of the monthly net win from table games," the report reads.

The state defines such payments to be "exclusivity fees." The tribes share revenues based on the promise that they are the exclusive operators of Class III games like slot machines, as well as table games like blackjack and poker.

Such provisions are common in Class III gaming compacts even though revenue sharing is not explicitly authorized by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act The Bureau of Indian Affairs, in determining whether a compact is legal, looks to see whether a state has promised tribes something "meaningful" in return, such as exclusivity.

Revenue sharing rates range from a low of 0 percent to a high of 25 percent, according to a Government Accountability Office report from 2015. Although Stitt has pointed to rates on the higher end of the scale, the majority of the compacts examined by the GAO at the time fell in the same range as Oklahoma's current agreement -- somewhere between 10 percent and 14.9 percent, and below.

Read More on the Story
State, tribes hold historic meeting on gaming compacts: 'You have to walk before you can run' (The Tulsa World October 29, 2019)
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter discusses gaming compacts with tribal leaders (The Oklahoman October 29, 2019)
Tribes start casino gambling negotiations with Oklahoma (The Associated Press October 29, 2019)

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