Governor Kevin Stitt turned up the heat in the ongoing dispute over the state’s tribal gaming agreements by doubling down on the idea to bring commercial gaming companies to Oklahoma.
Back in December Stitt said he had companies lined up to sign contracts.
The Governor maintains the 15-year tribal gaming compacts with the state’s tribes expired Jan. 1. The tribes say the compacts automatically renewed. Stitt is now once again floating the commercial option.
This time he says there are four to five nontribal companies that could net the state $350 million windfall. It's unclear where his jackpot of a number came from and whether the state would even be able to sign contracts with non-tribal gaming companies without ending the current tribal deals.
“I had the same reaction both times. Astonished. Similar to the last time and to be quite honest, offended,” Chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Assoc. Matt Morgan said.
Morgan said even if Stitt were to find a way to bring in non-tribal gaming, the state is already a full house.
“Any commercial operator wanting to come into Oklahoma face a high hurdle. We have a very mature market, a very sophisticated market,” he said.
Online, backlash to the governor's proposal was swift. In one of the most concise responses the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Chuck Hoskin Jr. tweeted out a reply, the facepalm emoji.
Tribal leaders, like Morgan, said these kinds of statements from Stitt won't help negotiations going forward.
Stitt and more than a dozen tribes are still locked in federal court over the future of the tribal gaming compacts and the tribes have continued to pay their money into the state.