Oklahoma tribal gaming leader rejects governor

By Ezra Amacher

Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman Matthew Morgan has rejected the latest gaming compact offer from Governor Kevin Stitt.

Last week a law firm working on Stitt’s behalf sent a letter to Oklahoma tribes asking them to end their lawsuit against the governor and comply with his proposed gaming compact.

The letter, sent on March 24, begins: “We are in uncertain times. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of Oklahoma’s tribal and non-tribal environment. Now more than ever is a time for us to stand together. Unfortunately, the lawsuit currently pending in federal court is doing just the opposite.”

The proposed compact would place a 5% fee on gambling revenue, authorize sports betting at tribal casinos and place an additional 2% fee on total sports wagering transactions.

Morgan responded that Stitt is trying to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to the state’s advantage.

Morgan writes: “This letter is yet another unsuccessful attempt to divide the Tribes. The letter confirms the real intent of Governor Stitt is to destroy the tribal interest outlined in the existing compacts. The Tribal leaders who received the letter reject the proposal as disrespectful and disingenuous.”

On 31 December, Oklahoma’s Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes filed a federal lawsuit against Stitt contending that the state’s 15-year gaming compact automatically renewed at the start of 2020.

Stitt contends that the compact expired with the start of the new year. A federal judge ordered mediation.


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