Gaming compacts for two Oklahoma tribes, namely the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, have finally been approved by the United States Department of the Interior (DOI).
The DOI announced that the gaming compacts for the two Native American tribes in Oklahoma have been deemed approved following a one and a half month review period. The state’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt and the two native tribes agreed to the terms and conditions in April this year. Gov. Stitt expressed his happiness on the development, saying he was extremely pleased to learn that the federal government approved the new gaming compacts.
Speaking on the topic, Gov. Stitt said, “I appreciate and respect the thoughtful leadership of Chairman Shotton (Otoe-Missouria Tribe) and Chairman Nelson (Comanche Nation), who worked hard to secure fair terms for their citizens … ensured a more level playing field and modernized gaming market in Oklahoma.”
The Republican governor further added that the upcoming gaming compacts of the two tribes would bring a new wave of prosperity, opportunities and partnership for the Sooner State and the tribes.
However, some experts are of the view that the development could lead to a new era of controversy for the state tribes and their gaming properties with the state as a number of Oklahoma Native American Tribes have long been at odds with the first-term Republican governor regarding their casino privileges.
Gov. Stitt says that the gaming compacts for the state’s 35 native tribes that permit them to operate gaming venues expired on 1st of January this year following a fifteen-year run but the state’s three most powerful tribes, namely the Choctaw nations, the Cherokee and the Chickasaw, claim that the legal contracts automatically renewed for a period of another 15 years.
The governor is apparently trying to divide the tribal nations by approving new gaming compacts with the smaller Comanche Nation Tribe and Otoe-Missouria Tribe. While the Comanche Nation Tribe generated $4.1 million in gaming taxes to the state in 2018, the Otoe-Missouria Tribe paid just $1.9 million. Encouraging the smaller tribes’ casino businesses will reduce the state’s dependency on the bigger tribes.
Gov. Stitt’s new agreement with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe will allow them to construct and operate new casinos. However, any new gambling and entertainment property would be taxed as high as 13 per cent. The tribes’ current casinos have to share 4.5 to 6 per cent of their gross gaming revenue as tax to the state.