Stalemate Continues Between Gov. Sitt, Oklahoma Tribes Over Gaming Compacts
There’s no progress in the state’s impasse with the tribes over gaming. Hanging in the balance; hundreds of millions of dollars.
The agreement between the state and the tribes on gaming expires in about a month and a half. And the tribes say there’s been no movement toward an agreement.
The 15-year agreement ends January 1. The governor believes the entire compact has to be renegotiated, and he sees this as an opportunity for the state to increase its take of gaming revenues.
The tribes position, “The compacts renew,” said Chickasaw Nation Attorney Stephen Greetham. “Right now, all we have is a position from the state where they appear to believe that the compacts don’t renew. In order for that to matter, there would have to be some type of intervening process.”
Like a court ruling, but the state probably won’t do that. It could lead to the loss of jobs and potentially millions of dollars.
Attorney General Mike Hunter met with leaders of the 31 tribes and their legal representation. In all, about 200 people filled the meeting, but the tribes say nothing was accomplished.
“There has been no substantive position based on law or fact that the state has been able to put forward that suggests that we’ve got a real dispute. We just have positions,” said Greetham.
The tribes refused to go to arbitration, saying the state still hasn’t fully articulated its position. They say they’re willing to renegotiate the state’s percentage of profits, but they don’t have to renegotiate the whole compact to do that.
The governor’s office is not answering News 9’s questions on camera, but released a statement saying:
“The governor is disappointed the tribes declined the state’s proposal for arbitration in order to resolve our legal differences and that they did not present an alternative resolution towards progress. The governor will be providing a full update in the coming days about the current state of negotiations.”
“It’s mid-November. The state indicated it wanted to build a new compact from the ground up. We’ve yet to get any meaningful proposal about what it is the state envisions, what it wants,” said Greetham.
So, what happens if there is no agreement by the January 1 deadline? According to the tribes, nothing.
“The games, the offerings, the amenities will all be the exact same January 1, 2020, January 1, 2021, and we would look forward to growing our operations,” said Greetham. “The tribal state partnership is a good thing for everyone.”