Governor Kevin Stitt said he will not appeal a U.S. District Court’s ruling that Oklahoma’s tribal gaming compacts automatically renewed in January.
Governor Stitt had argued that the compacts expired on January 1 and needed to be renegotiated, but a federal judge ruled against him in July. He had hoped to negotiate higher exclusivity fees for the tribes.
In a statement, Governor Stitt said, “While I have chosen not to appeal this decision, I believe the people of Oklahoma will demand a fair deal that benefits all four million Oklahomans."
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Hoskin Jr issued this statement in response, saying,
One of the most divisive, wasteful and pointless disputes between tribes in Oklahoma and the Office of Oklahoma Governor is now over. Much has been lost. State and tribal funds expended over Governor Stitt’s misreading of the plain and simple language of the state’s tribal gaming compact are only part of the loss. The greater loss is the erosion of goodwill, built upon a bipartisan basis over successive Oklahoma governors over decades. The damage is immeasurable, but we can all move forward. Oklahoma wins when it cooperates with tribes, respects sovereignty and honors its word. It is on that basis that the Office of Oklahoma Governor and tribal leaders can rebuild the trust and mutual respect that has served tribes and all four million Oklahomans so well. These principles can also lead us through other challenges to state and tribal relations ahead.
To the millions of every day Oklahomans, community leaders, business leaders and public officials at all levels and across party lines who had the backs of Cherokee Nation and other tribes, I say wado. Just about every Oklahoman understands that the gaming industry has been good for the state and that the tribes are partners who always step up to build communities and grow the economy. To the tribal leaders who, though a sense of solidarity and respect, rallied around our common goal of defending an industry that is the cornerstone of our economies, I say wado and I let us stay vigilant. We will need to draw on this solidarity as we address new challenges on the horizon.
You can read Governor Stitt’s full statement below.
“The U.S. District Court has ruled the Model Tribal Gaming Compacts automatically renewed for another 15 years. While I have chosen not to appeal this decision, I believe that the people of Oklahoma will demand a fair deal that benefits all 4 million Oklahomans.
Our state is facing unprecedented uncertainty as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma. Therefore, it is essential for state and tribal leaders to join together to resolve the challenges this ruling presents for Oklahomans and their businesses.
For Oklahoma to become a Top Ten state, we must work together to find solutions that respect the unique relationship between the State of Oklahoma and its tribal citizens, and that provide certainty and fairness for all Oklahomans.
Our state agencies regularly cooperate with the tribes on matters involving public safety, health care, human services, transportation, education, the environment, energy and many other areas. I hope this can continue, as together we are “One Oklahoma.”
I look forward to working with our Congressional delegation, state officials and Oklahoma’s tribal nations to create an environment of fairness, clarity and unity that serves all 4 million Oklahomans.”