Oklahoma Tribes Begin to Negotiate With State Officials

Lawmakers in Oklahoma and the state’s Native American Tribes have been arguing with each other for months. It’s a complicated issue in which both parties feel they’re correct. This week, Oklahoma tribes have finally begun negotiating with members of the state government.State Map Of Oklahoma

It’s great news to see a discussion finally take place. Now is the perfect time to look at what these two groups are arguing about. We’ll also talk about some of the state’s possible gambling expansion plans.

Tribal Casinos in Oklahoma Continue to Bring in Revenue

Oklahoma is home to more than 100 land-based casinos. A huge number of Native American Tribes are based in this state and since 1988, they’ve been able to operate gambling venues on sovereign land. This industry has proven to be extremely successful for the state government.

All together, these casinos generate billions of dollars every single year. That usually ends up paying the government more than $100 million each year in taxes, as well. Oklahoma casinos also help to boost the state’s tourism industry.

In many nearby states such as Texas, casino gambling is completely illegal. For that reason, many people come to test their luck in different Oklahoma tribal casinos. State lawmakers recognize how important these venues are for the local economy.

Interestingly, some major politicians in this state have worked to generate more revenue from the gambling industry. Even the Governor of Oklahoma believes that the state should be making more money from casinos. These opinions has led to some serious conflicts with Oklahoma tribes that operate gambling establishments.

Oklahoma Tribes Finally Start Negotiating With Lawmakers

There are many highly popular gambling venues in this state. For many years, these casinos have been forced to pay between 4% and 10% of their total revenue to the state via taxes. These rates seemed to work for both the tribes and state government.

This year, things took a turn. Governor Kevin Stitt began taking a closer look at the current tax structure. He felt that the tax structure was outdated, and it was time for these tribes to begin paying more money.

Many different Oklahoma tribes began pushing against these new measures. John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Nation, commented on the state’s newly proposed measures to the media this summer.

“What I don’t understand, in any of his op-ed, there’s no recognition of the true value of the tribes,” he said. “(Native American tribes) are one of the largest employers in the state. We provide benefits for our employees. We’re probably the most philanthropic group in the state.”

For months, the tribes refused to engage in any real dialogue with lawmakers. Finally, these tribes have begun negotiating.

Oklahoma’s Attorney General is now speaking with more than two dozen tribal leaders. Hope is that these groups can reach an agreement and move forward without any major issues.

Lawmakers Still Push Against Sports Betting Legalization

Since May of 2018, every state in the country has been granted the ability to set its own laws on sports betting. Today, 19 states have outright legalized this form of gambling. Many more are likely to do so over the next few years.

Lawmakers in Oklahoma are showing no real willingness to embrace this industry. In late 2018, a bill was introduced here to allow Oklahoma tribes to offer “sports pools” inside casinos.

If approved, this bill would have allowed for “wagering on the outcome of one or more competitive games in which athletes participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games where all bets are placed in a common pool or pot from which all player winnings, prizes and direct costs are paid.”

Unfortunately, this bill failed to get approved during the state’s 2018 legislative session and seems unlikely to be approved this year.

Many, however, believe that sports betting will be legalized in Oklahoma within a few years. The state already earns millions from casinos. Regulation of the sports betting industry will bring in millions of additional dollars to the state government each year.

Stay tuned for more Oklahoma casino news over the next few months!