Tribal Gaming

Stuart Ostler / Oklahoma Capitol

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has denied Gov. Kevin Stitt’s request it rehear a case in which the court ruled gaming compacts he signed with two tribes were invalid.

The court denied Stitt’s request Monday without comment.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tribal gaming fees paid to the state cratered at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Oklahoma.

The Office of Management and Enterprise Services reported monthly exclusivity fee payments under gaming compacts fell from $12.3 million in February to $6.6 million in March and bottomed out at less than $21,000 in April with casinos closed.

Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman Matthew Morgan said while the state missed out on as much as $42 million in payments because of the drop, tribes lost out on hundreds of millions more with a main industry shut down.

PickPik

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The U.S. Department of Interior has given tacit approval to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recent agreements on tribal gambling with two Oklahoma-based Indian tribes.

The compacts with the Kialegee Tribal Town and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians were “deemed approved” by the federal department after a 45-day review period expired Thursday.

The new compacts would increase the fees the tribes pay on certain electronic games from 6% to as high as 13% if the tribes build casinos in new locations authorized under the deal.

Gov. Kevin Stitt's office

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Four Oklahoma tribes are asking a federal court to void gambling compacts between the state of Oklahoma and two other tribes — agreements that the Oklahoma State Supreme Court recently invalidated.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Oklahoma’s tribal gaming compacts automatically renewed on Jan. 1, handing a victory to the tribes who sued Gov. Kevin Stitt to renew them.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy DeGiusti rejected Stitt’s argument that the compacts — which define how much of their gambling revenue the tribes must pay to the state and which games are allowed — had expired.

Stitt expressed disappointment at the ruling.

Baishampayan Ghose

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt overstepped his authority when he reached a casino gambling agreement with two Native American tribes, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

In a 7–1 decision, the high court determined the compacts Stitt signed with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes are “invalid under Oklahoma law.”

Twitter / @GovStitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — New gaming compacts have been signed with two additional Indian tribes, according to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

PickPik

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The federal government approved new gambling compacts between Oklahoma and two tribal nations, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on Monday, but the governor still remains locked in a legal dispute over tribal gambling with other tribes and legislative leaders from his own party.

The compacts between Oklahoma and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Comanche Nation were both “deemed approved” by the U.S. Department of the Interior following the expiration of a 45-day review period.

Stuart Ostler / Oklahoma Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma’s Republican legislative leaders asked the state Supreme Court on Thursday to settle whether Gov. Kevin Stitt overstepped his authority when he reached deals with two Native American tribes to allow sports gambling.

That was Attorney General Mike Hunter’s conclusion in a formal opinion and letter to the U.S. Interior secretary last month.

Courtesy

Cherokee Nation has started reopening its casinos and aims to have Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa open by the end of next week.

The tribe closed its 10 northeastern Oklahoma casinos March 17 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Properties in Tahlequah, Fort Gibson and Sallisaw reopened this week.

"As we entered phase three for Oklahoma and Tulsa this week, the trends seemed to indicate that it would be safe for us to open on a very strategic basis," said Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Chuck Garrett.

KWGS News photo

Oklahoma tribes and Gov. Kevin Stitt made their latest cases to the judge presiding over their gaming compact lawsuit.

Documents submitted on Friday by both sides argue why Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti should rule in their favor, finding the compacts automatically renewed when it comes to the tribes or ruling they expired when it comes to Stitt.

Tribes argued in a 51-page filing that renewal was triggered when the state allowed gaming machines at horse racing tracks to continue operating.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The leaders of two Oklahoma-based Native American tribes defended on Wednesday their recent gambling compacts with the state and urged the U.S. Department of the Interior to approve them.

KWGS File photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Hundreds of people stood in line Tuesday waiting to enter a casino in central Oklahoma that has been allowed to reopen with social distancing restrictions and sanitation safeguards in place to protect against a resurgence of the coronavirus.

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."

Facebook / Gov. Kevin Stitt

This story was updated at 4:48 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5th, to include a new response from Baylee Lakey, communications director for the governor.

In an opinion released at the request of the Oklahoma legislature's two most senior Republicans and a separate letter to a federal cabinet secretary, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter on Tuesday dug in deeper on his charge that Governor Kevin Stitt, a fellow Republican, acted unlawfully last month in signing gaming compacts between the state and two Indian governments.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt responded Friday to charges leveled by Republican leaders in the state legislature that recent gaming compacts signed between the state and two tribal governments were unlawful.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt overstepped his authority when he signed gambling compacts with two Native American tribes this week, House and Senate GOP leaders said in a joint letter to the governor on Wednesday.

House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said the governor’s inclusion of sports betting is one of several flaws they found in their review of the compacts.

“Sadly, the documents signed yesterday are legally flawed and sow more division than unity,” the two leaders wrote.

Gov. Kevin Stitt's office

 Updated April 21, 6:37 a.m. to include a response by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter.

Two tribes on Tuesday signed new gaming compacts with Gov. Kevin Stitt.

The Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation agreed to new 15-year compacts that would expire Dec. 31, 2035. Those tribes are not parties to a gaming compact lawsuit against Stitt currently in mediation.

Otoe-Missouria Tribe Chairman John Shotton said it’s not that they disagree with tribes that are suing Stitt over his claim compacts expired.

Courtesy

Casinos operated by the Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) nations will stay closed through April.

Both tribes shut down their casinos throughout Oklahoma on March 16 as part of their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All casinos are closed, from the tribe’s flagship Hard Rock and River Spirit hotel-resorts in Tulsa to smaller operations, including those at travel stops. Employees are still being paid while the locations are closed.

Cherokee Nation museums and retail operations are also closed.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The state’s top Native American gaming official rejected Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s latest casino gambling offer on Friday and accused the governor of trying to take advantage of the tribes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Matthew Morgan, the chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, described the governor’s latest offer as “yet another unsuccessful attempt to divide the tribes.”

PickPik

The deadline for Oklahoma tribes and Governor Kevin Stitt to come to an agreement on gaming compacts has been extended.

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti moved the mediation deadline in the tribes’ lawsuit against Stitt from March 31 to May 31. A status hearing set for April 3 has been postponed indefinitely.

Three tribes sued Stitt on Dec. 31, asking for a declaration gaming compacts renewed automatically. Stitt responded by asking the judge to find the compacts expired and declare Class III gaming illegal.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

When Republican Kevin Stitt was elected Oklahoma governor in 2018, many Cherokee Nation members felt proud that one of their own had accomplished such a feat, even if their politics didn’t necessarily align with his.

But in less than a year in office, Stitt began facing fierce blowback, particularly from fellow tribal citizens, for engaging in a battle with the Cherokee Nation and other Oklahoma-based Native American tribes over the amount of casino gambling revenue they were giving to the state.

KWGS News File photo

A federal judge has denied two Oklahoma tribes’ requests to join the gaming lawsuit against Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti wrote it would be "neither necessary nor appropriate" for the United Keetowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Kialegee Tribal Town to intervene in the lawsuit.

Their request was opposed by the tribes already parties to the lawsuit because they do not offer gaming.

The dispute over whether the compacts renewed automatically for a new 15-year term or expired at the end of 2019 is currently in court-ordered mediation.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Native American tribes suing the state over tribal gambling compacts oppose requests by two tribes to intervene in the lawsuit.

The Dec. 31 lawsuit by the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations asks a federal judge to determine whether compacts allowing gambling exclusively at tribal casinos automatically renewed Jan. 1.

Mediation was ordered after Gov. Kevin Stitt asked the judge to order the casinos to stop offering certain games, including electronic and table games.

Whitney Bryen-Oklahoma Watch

A mediator has been appointed in the gaming compact dispute between Gov. Kevin Stitt and what's now 11 Oklahoma tribes.

Former U.S. District Judge Layn R. Phillips will try to broker an agreement in the months-long disagreement between Stitt and the tribes over whether gaming compacts expired at the end of 2019 or renewed automatically. The Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations sued Stitt Dec. 31, asking a judge to rule the compacts renewed automatically.

Stitt believes the compacts expired and asked the judge to find Class III gaming illegal.

KWGS News File photo

Five Oklahoma tribes suing Gov. Kevin Stitt to resolve their gaming compact dispute asked a federal judge to find the compacts renewed automatically. Stitt asked the judge to find Class III gaming illegal.

Neither side got what they asked for.

After a pretrial hearing Monday, Chief United States District Judge Timothy DeGiusti issued an order for mediation in the case. Stitt and the tribes have until Friday to submit a list of three proposed mediators for the court to appoint.

Friday will also be the deadline for any other tribes that want to join the case to do so.

Oklahoma House/KWGS News

Oklahoma tribes have a powerful ally on their side in the argument with Gov. Kevin Stitt over whether gaming compacts expired at the end of 2019.

In an interview with the Tulsa World, Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall said he believes the compacts automatically renewed for another 15 years on Jan. 1, as tribes contend.

McCall said Stitt has asked his opinion on the matter.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has joined four other tribes in a gaming compact lawsuit against Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

The Creeks filed a motion to intervene in the suit originally filed by the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw nations. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation joined in that lawsuit Friday.

The Muscogee (Creek) National Council last week approved spending up to $500,000 on the lawsuit, which asks a federal judge to decide whether the tribes’ gaming compact with the state automatically renewed.

Baishampayan Ghose

Oklahomans still can’t legally bet on basketball, football and other events nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for sports betting.

Some wonder if Governor Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma tribes ever get to the negotiating table whether it could be worked into gaming compacts.

Some have guessed the illegal sports betting market is a $400 billion industry. OSU business professor John Holden, however, said it probably isn’t that lucrative.