Gov. Stitt Files Response To Federal Gaming Suit
OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Stitt is sticking to his guns on the dispute over the compacts, asking a federal court judge to rule Oklahoma’s Indian Tribes are acting illegally by not negotiating new gaming compacts, in a new response to the federal lawsuit brought by some of the state’s most powerful Native American tribes. If the Judge rules in Stitt’s favor, it could lead to the forced shutdown of some tribal casinos.
"I was deeply disappointed that our most successful gaming tribes rejected the State's desire to resolve this.” Stitt said in a statement sent alongside the state’s legal response, adding “No advantage is gained by harming tribal economies or compromising school funding."
Stitt still had a week to respond to the suit filed on Dec. 31 by the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee Nations. Stitt maintains the gaming compacts expired on January 1st, while the tribes say they renewed on that same date. Stitt will be represented by the law firm Perkins-Coie.
The attorney for the Chickasaw Nation, Stephen Greetham, blamed Gov. Stitt for the dispute.
“We are glad Governor Stitt has not sought to delay the proceeding and look forward to learning what legal basis he will claim to justify the uncertainty he has endeavored to create.”
In a tweet Thursday morning, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said Gov. Stitt is hurting all of Oklahoma.
“Gov. Stitt’s bewildering and isolated position on gaming compact renewal continues. Asking the court to effectively cripple a vibrant industry hurts all 4 million Oklahoman and Squanders our change to be a top 10 state,” Hoskin Jr. wrote using the Governor’s often touted slogan against him,
The filing coincided with the news that yet another powerful Oklahoma tribe is poised to join the lawsuit against the Governor.
The Muscogee Creek Nation council voted this week to set aside half a million dollars for legal fees indicating they will likely joins the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee nations in suing.
In a statement, the Muscogee principal Chief David Hill said in part "approval of the budget request once again solidifies the Muscogee (Creek) Nation's unified support of the legal action taken by our fellow Nations."
It's unclear when the Muscogee nation will be joining the lawsuit.