A lot is going on in Oklahoma right now – and tribal gaming is in focus. Governor Kevin Stitt is accused by the new Republican attorney general Gentner Drummond that he didn’t comply with the state law when signing the tribal gambling agreements.

Tribes and government against the Governor:

The Governor signed the agreements in 2020, and right now, the attorney thinks he violated the law, which is the reason for the legal dispute.

Drummond reached out to his Republican colleague via both letter and personal phone call and said to the Governor that he would join the lawsuit against him. He will represent the state by the choice of House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat.

The attorney wrote: “As you should fully understand, this long-running and costly litigation is a direct result of your refusal to follow Oklahoma law. The four tribal gaming compacts you signed were invalid from the start because you did not have the approval or authorization from the Oklahoma Legislature to enter the gaming compacts.”

The federal lawsuit against the Governor had been filled by four Indian tribes: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Citizen Potawatomi, and Choctaw, and the main reason is the Governor’s gambling compact with the Comanche Nation, the Otoe-Missouria, the Kialegee Tribal Town, and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.

According to the source, Drummond claims that the private law firms that defend the Governor have already collected almost $600.000 in legal fees.

Many benefits for the State of Oklahoma:

The Governor wanted to change the terms of the compacts and find a solution that would benefit the state. He wanted to sign a compact with all Indian tribes based in Oklahoma and get a bigger percentage of the revenue for the state, under the excuse that the compact from 2004 already expired. That attempt failed in 2019 since all compacts were automatically extended after the expiration.

The Governor wasn’t on good terms with the tribal leaders, but since 2019, that relationship has become even worse. Even the members of the Republican party and his party colleagues thought that his approach was pretty harsh, and after this lawsuit, it is possible that all negotiations with the tribes will be done by another person since the Governor wouldn’t have that duty anymore.

Oklahoma is known as a popular gambling center in the area. The state currently has over 130 casinos in various forms – from small annexes on gas stations to luxury resorts and hotels. When the voters agreed to allow the expansion of the industry back in 2004, the casinos started expanding in the border communities. 

Tribal gambling is one of the most powerful sources of revenue for the state. Only in the last year the state got almost $200 million in revenue from tribal casinos, and a huge percentage of the revenue went to upgrade the public schools in the state.