The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association on Thursday removed two member tribes that signed new gaming compacts last month with Gov. Kevin Stitt.
The Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe's memberships have been suspended for the rest of 2020. OIGA amended its bylaws to say the action can be taken for "conduct not in the best interest of the association."
"This was a difficult decision to make, but it was the correct one. Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association works best when its membership can speak frankly and with the trust that all members are working together to support our industry as a whole," OIGA Chairman Matt Morgan said in a statement.
The Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe agreed to new compacts with Stitt that would allow them to build new casinos and offer sports betting, but Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, House Speaker Charles McCall and Attorney General Mike Hunter have said the governor does not have the authority to offer those things.
Hunter has asked the U.S. Department of the Interior, which must approve new gaming compacts, to reject the agreements.
"It’s unfortunate the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association doesn’t respect individual tribal sovereignty to negotiate new compacts. The Comanche Nation constitution makes our duty clear — the common well-being of all Comanche Nation members. The Comanche Nation compact is legal," Chairman William Nelson Sr. said in a statement.
"The Otoe-Missouria Tribe is a sovereign nation and we negotiated a legal compact with the Governor of the State of Oklahoma. We plan to follow the federal process for approval of the negotiated compact," Chairman John R. Shotton said in a statement. "Regardless of the opinion of the OIGA, there are not hierarchies of sovereign nations in Indian Country. Each tribe has the right to negotiate the best compact available for their tribal government."
Several other tribes are challenging in court Stitt's assertion their compacts expired at the end of 2019, making Class III gaming illegal. The Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe were allowed to join that lawsuit but dropped out after making their agreements with Stitt.