For years, Oklahoma has boasted one of the largest Native American tribal casino markets in the world. A huge number of tribal casinos are operating here, yet they’re in danger of soon being banned. Many are now wondering whether or not tribal gambling in Oklahoma will be made illegal next year.
Oklahoma’s governor is making it clear that he’s against the gambling industry. Today, we’re going to look at exactly why casino gambling could be made illegal here. We’ll also talk about the chances of this happening in 2020.
Let’s get into it!
Oklahoma Lawmakers Continue to Fight With Tribes
As we just mentioned, Oklahoma has a long and rich history of gambling regulation. In the 1980s, lawmakers here began allowing horse race gambling and Class II casino gambling options. It was a major step forward, as in the past, state officials banned almost all forms of traditional gambling.
Unfortunately, these officials seemed unwilling to legalize real casino gambling. Class III games, which include table games and slot machines, were banned for years. In 2000, lawmakers here finally entered into negotiations with tribes over this subject.
In 2004, Class III gambling was officially legalized in Oklahoma. This breathed new life in the state’s gambling industry. Almost immediately after this legalization, a huge number of tribes began immediately pushing to open new gambling venues. Online casinos in Oklahoma remain unregulated but are hugely popular.
The state began benefiting from this industry right away. Hundreds of millions of dollars started flowing into the state. These casinos attracted many visitors from nearby states such as Texas.
Unfortunately, Governor Kevin Stitt may end up killing the state’s gambling industry. Tribal gambling in Oklahoma could actually become illegal soon.
Kevin Stitt is Fighting Against Tribal Gambling in Oklahoma
Native American tribes in Oklahoma have been fighting with certain state lawmakers for months. It all stems from a disagreement with the state’s gambling compacts. Initially, the state granted tribes here a 15-year contract to offer Class III gambling options.
Under this contract, the tribes agreed to pay the state a certain amount of their revenue via taxes. The 15-year contracts are now expired, and Kevin Stitt believes that it’s time to renegotiate the terms of the agreement. The tribes in this state disagree.
It’s become a serious issue. Tribal leaders are under the impression that the 15-year agreement auto-renews. They are continuing to operate in the same way they have for the past decade and a half.
Stitt wants to see the tribes start paying more money to the state. Until this happens, he argues, these tribes are operating illegally. It’s a complicated issue with no real end in sight.
Not long ago, it appeared that the tribes and lawmakers were ready to negotiate. Unfortunately, these negotiations seem to have fallen through. Now, many of these tribes here are taking legal action against Governor Stitt.
Tribes Officially Sue Kevin Stitt Over Casino Dispute
Kevin Stitt isn’t backing down. He maintains that the state deserves more money from its legal casino gambling options. To their credit, the tribes aren’t backing down, either.
This week, the three most powerful tribes in the state officially filed a lawsuit against Governor Stitt. The Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw tribes are all taking legal action against the governor for not renewing the gambling compacts. The tribes all claim that they’ve met all the requirements to obtain new gambling licenses.
Chuck Hoskin, the Cherokee Nation Chief, commented on why these lawsuits are now taking place.
“For some time, we have tried to establish meaningful intergovernmental engagement regarding our gaming compacts, but you have continued to reject our compacts’ plain terms,” he said. “Recently, you have gone further, stating allegations against us and threats to our operations.”
Stitt is telling the media that he’s still open to negotiations. Until this takes place, he maintains that Class III gambling is illegal here.
Tribal gambling in Oklahoma is still available, despite its legality sitting in a grey area. Make sure to stay tuned for more updates on this situation over the next few months!