The Oklahoman: Gov. Stitt responds to tribal gaming lawsuit

Kevin Stitt: Tribes must share more gaming revenues with Oklahoma

Kevin Stitt, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, made history a year ago when he became only the second Native American to serve as governor of Oklahoma, home to 39 federally recognized tribes.

And while a group of tribal leaders attended Stitt's inauguration in January 2019, the relationship has been rocky ever since. That's because the governor continues to demand a greater share of their gaming revenues, all while threatening to shut down their operations and maybe even bring in non-Indian casinos. He explains the reasoning for his push in The Oklahoman amid a lawsuit in federal court:

I believe a new compact should more equitably allocate fees among tribes. It should include protections to require vendors not to exceed national market rates. And it should address changing market conditions.

The past 15 years have proven the exclusivity promised by the state to be more valuable than anyone anticipated. But that value hasn't been enjoyed equally by all tribes or shared appropriately with the state. Increasing fees at the highest market revenue levels to better support our public schools and mental health services while reducing fees to benefit the tribes operating smaller gaming operations ought to be a topic for discussion.

And 15 years ago, the parties knew that. They promised to renegotiate fees and exclusivity, regardless of whether the compacts renewed or expired. Unfortunately, most tribes have refused to renegotiate any part of the compact, unless the state first conceded that the compacts automatically renew indefinitely.

I have tried to protect tribal gaming, the public and our schools. The state attempted four times to initiate negotiations; the tribes repeatedly refused to listen to a proposal. The state proposed arbitration; the tribes refused. We offered an eight-month compact extension that preserved everyone’s legal arguments, to create more time for productive conversations. All but two tribes refused.

Read More on the Story
Governor Kevin Stitt: Seeking a win for all Oklahomans (The Oklahoman January 26, 2020)

Also Today
Gov. Stitt and tribal leaders verbally spar over gaming compacts (The Oklahoman January 24, 2020)

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