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Oklahoma AG casts doubt on legality of tribal compacts


The Attorney General of Oklahoma has thrown the future of two new tribal compacts into doubt by arguing that Governor Kevin Stitt didn’t have the authority to negotiate agreements for products not covered by the state’s tribal gaming regulations.

Earlier this week Stitt announced that he had agreed new compacts with the the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Comanche Nation, allowing each to offer Class III gaming – including sports betting – at their casinos in the state.

However AG Mike Hunter told iGB North America that the agreements were not authorized by Title 3A, Section 261 of the Oklahoma Tribal Gaming Act.

“The governor has the authority to negotiate compacts with the tribes on behalf of the state,” Hunter noted. 

“However, only gaming activities authorized by the act may be the subject of a tribal gaming compact. Sports betting is not a prescribed ‘covered game’ under the act.”

This supports the stance taken by the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA), which argued that the agreements were based on an erroneous claim of “unilateral state authority”.

OIGA chair Matthew Morgan said Stitt’s attempt to legalize sports betting, revamp the Oklahoma Lottery and authorize new gaming facilities without the engagement of the state legislature was “simply not the law”.

This comes against a backdrop of an ongoing dispute between Stitt and the state’s tribal operators, with the Governor claiming all tribal compacts expired in January this year. The tribes vehemently oppose his stance. A federal judge has given the parties until May 31 to reach a compromise. 

The new compacts with the the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation allow each tribe to offer betting on sports within 1,00 feet at two of their casinos. They may also offer poker, roulette, slot machines, and blackjack at all properties. 

The monthly fees paid to the state will be set between 4.5% and 6% of revenue, rising if the tribes construct new facilities. For the Comanche Nation, this would rise to 13% if they build a new venue in Love County, or 12% for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe at a new facility in Logan County.

The Comanche Nation also has the option to build venues in Cleveland County and Grady County, and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe in Noble County and Payne County.

Should the tribe’s annual net gaming revenue exceed $300m, these fees may be reevaluated.