The Attorney General for Oklahoma has reportedly secured the services of a highly respected Michigan law firm as his office endeavors to renegotiate its gaming compacts with the state’s many casino-operating tribes.
According to a Friday report from the Associated Press news service published by the Star Tribune newspaper, Mike Hunter has agreed to pay Detroit-headquartered Dykema Gossett up to $250,000 to assist in the talks between the state and its tribes in hopes of being able to secure a larger share of their gambling revenues for the public purse.
Oklahoma is home to approximately 120 gambling establishments operated by some 35 tribes under 15-year gaming compacts that are due to expire in January. These enterprises range in size from a few machines placed inside small gas station annexes to large resort-style casino hotels such as the Downstream Casino Resort located near the state’s borders with neighboring Missouri and Kansas.
But, this over-abundance has not led to a tax windfall as ‘The Sooner State’ managed to collect only about $139 million in exclusivity fees last year, which are a feature of the compacts and forbid Oklahoma from legalizing non-tribal gaming in exchange for receiving between 4% and 10% of an aboriginal venue’s gambling revenues. This situation led the state’s newly-elected Governor, Kevin Stitt, to declare in July that he would like to renegotiate these tribal deals complete with a higher range of levies.
However, this plan has reportedly been widely panned by Oklahoma’s casino-operating tribes who assert that the ‘evergreen’ nature of their current deals mean that these will simply be rolled over should no new terms be agreed by January.
The Star Tribune reportedly cited Hunter spokesperson, Alex Gerszewski, as declaring that the ongoing negotiations between Oklahoma and its tribes are ‘complex’ and that the state has decided to hire Dykema Gossett because ‘it is important to have experts with experience in this area.’
Reportedly read a statement from Gerszewski…
“Dykema [Gossett] has a proven record of success in tribal compact and gaming negotiations. We believe with its help, we can achieve a successful outcome for both the state and our tribal partners.”