There is a clear dispute taking place in Oklahoma with regards to gaming right now.
Last Friday, former Oklahoma governor Brad Henry who served from 2003-2011 expressed concerns wover the conflict between the Native American tribes in the state and Gov. Kevin Stitt. Henry told the Tulsa World that the conflict could end up in court.
Henry currently does consulting work for the Chickasaw Nation, but he said he's not touching the tribal compact issue in the state. He originally negotiated the gaming compacts during his tenure as governor, and his legislation allowed Oklahoma to take in fees from tribes in exchange for exclusivity rights on the gaming industry.
“We felt like these compacts were going to be very successful in terms of bringing in a lot of money to the state of Oklahoma for education,” Henry told the Tulsa World.
Henry had clear apprehensions that the compacts might not prove to be successful, as the tribes could possibly come back and negotiate lower rates overall.
“We felt like it was best for the state that they could stand on the compacts and they would automatically renew,” Henry said.
Outsiders might not realize that Oklahoma is the leader in the United States in terms of tribal casinos with a total of 139 already in place. California is the next closest with 76.
A meeting scheduled for Monday between Attorney General Mike Hunter and Oklahoma Native American tribal representatives was designed to talk about renewing gaming compacts in Shawnee.
The 15-year compacts that have been in place are set to expire in the state on Jan. 1, 2020, unless there is a renewal figured out through negotiations. It will automatically renew, according to the tribes, unless the terms are altered between the state and the tribes.
Paying between 4 and 10 percent of revenue in exclusivity fees to Oklahoma, the tribe could be paying more if Gov. Stitt has his way. Stitt says he wants the money to support education, roads, bridges and health care markets in the state.
“Our members welcome the opportunity to hear from Attorney General Hunter. We appreciate General Hunter’s willingness to open a dialogue with us in hopes of finding a path forward that will result in an amicable resolution,” Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association chairman Matthew Morgan told Oklahoma City Fox affiliate KOKH.
“Let me reiterate, tribes are committed to working together with the state to advance Oklahoma and improve the lives of all Oklahomans. We have accomplished a lot in the past by working together. We wish to continue our cooperation and collaboration for years to come.”
Legal sports betting might be far off in Oklahoma, possibly a year away. However, Stitt, the tribes and Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association will have to work this deal out and make it work for both sides before any other progress can be made.