In Oklahoma and the leader of the casino-operating Chickasaw Nation has reportedly written to the federal government to advise officials that his tribe would see any state effort to disturb its current gambling operations as ‘an intolerable risk’.
According to a report from the Tulsa World newspaper, Bill Anoatubby (pictured) serves as Governor for the federally-recognized tribe and made his assertion via a Tuesday letter to the United States Department of the Interior. The tribal leader purportedly authored the correspondence in order to explain the Chickasaw Nation’s position in regards to the impasse the has developed over a plan from the state to renegotiate all of its aboriginal gaming compacts so as to include a higher range of so-called ‘exclusivity fees’.
The newspaper reported that Oklahoma is home to approximately 130 tribal gambling establishments operated under 15-year compacts that are due to expire at the end of the month. These arrangements purportedly include provisions that see aboriginal venues hand over between 4% and 10% of their gaming revenues in ‘exclusivity fees’ so as to receive a promise from the state that it will not license commercial casinos.
Despite its seemingly over-abundance of tribal casinos, Tulsa World reported that ‘The Sooner State’ only managed to collect about $148.2 million in ‘exclusivity fees’ over the course of the last fiscal year. This situation purportedly led Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to proclaim in July that he would like to have these compacts renegotiated to include a higher range of taxes, which immediately triggered an angry response from the tribes and led to a stalemate that is showing no signs of being resolved.
Anoatubby is reported to have used his letter to additionally declare that his tribe, which is responsible for almost two dozen Oklahoma casinos including Love County’s giant WinStar World Casino and Resort, does not require any federal help at this time but is worried that a ‘formal dispute may be imminent’. He purportedly moreover wrote that it remains the view of the Chickasaw Nation that its current compact complete with its existing ‘exclusivity fees’ will simply roll over should it not be renegotiated before January 1.
Tulsa World reported that the letter from Anoatubby stated that it would be ‘an intolerable risk’ to the Chickasaw Nation and its around 49,000 citizens for Oklahoma to attempt to ‘to disrupt our tribal government gaming operations’.
Reportedly read the letter from Anoatubby…
“Accordingly, we reserve our right to take legal action, if necessary, to protect the Chickasaw Nation’s legal and sovereign rights as well as the material interests of our citizens who rely on government programs and services supported by our gaming operation revenues.”