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Oklahoma Governor signs Class III compacts with two tribal casinos


Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has signed new gaming compacts with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Comanche Nation to allow the tribes to offer Class III games, including sports betting.

However, the state’s tribal gaming association argued that the agreement was based on an erroneous claim of “unilateral state authority”, and would therefore exacerbate an ongoing dispute between the tribes and Stitt.

The compacts last 15 years each and must be ratified by the US Department of the Interior before they may come into effect.

“This is a historic day for the State of Oklahoma and for our tribal partners who are here with me today,” Stitt said.

“As an Oklahoman and a tribal citizen, it has been my heart’s desire to provide a level playing field for all 4 million Oklahomans and to ensure meaningful opportunities for all 38 federally recognized tribes that call our state home.”

The compacts allow the tribes to offer betting on sports, including esports, at or within 1,000 feet of their facilities. Each tribe may offer wagering at no more than two facilities.

In addition, the tribes may now offer poker, roulette, slot machines, and blackjack.

The tribes’ exclusivity fees to the state at existing facilities would remain the same, at between 4.5% and 6% of revenue, but if the tribes choose to build new facilities, the fees on these would be much higher. The fees are paid monthly.

These fees would come to 8% of revenue at some facilities, up to a high of 13% for the Comanche Nation for a new facility in Love County, or 12% for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe at a new facility in Logan County.

Other new facilities may be built by the Comanche Nation in Cleveland County and Grady County and by 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.

These rates do not apply to exclusivity fees for wagers, which are set at 1.1% of stakes.

The Otoe-Missouria Tribe currently operates five casinos: 7 Clans Paradise Casino in Red Rock, First Council Casino and Lil’ Bit of Paradise Casino Chilocco in Newkirk, Lil’ Bit of Paradise Casino Red Rock and 7 Clans Casino Perry.

The Comanche Nation operates Comanche Nation Casino, the Comanche Red River Hotel Casino, the Comanche Star Casino and the Comanche Spur Casino, all in Comanche County.

The agreement comes against a backdrop of a dispute between Stitt and the state’s tribal operators, after the Governor claimed the tribes’ gaming compacts didn’t automatically renew on their existing terms from 2020. This prompted the tribes to sue, with a federal judge setting a May 31 deadline to reach a compromise.

The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association’s chair Matthew Morgan said the tribes have sovereignty to take what actions it believes are necessary on behalf of its citizens.

However, he added: “All the same, Governor Stitt does not have the authority to do what he claims to have done today.

“Without the engagement of the Oklahoma Legislature, he has entered agreements based on a claim of unilateral state authority to legalize sportsbook, to revamp the Oklahoma Lottery, and to authorize new gaming facilities in Norman and Stillwater, among other places. That’s simply not the law.”

“I expect tribal and state officials are now reviewing the documents he released today and trying to understand what exactly it is Governor Stitt is trying to do,” Morgan said. “But at the end of the day, I suspect his actions have not helped matters for anyone.”