Oklahoma may reconsider tribal exclusive gaming rights

Governor Kevin Stitt said a number of operators are interested in developing casinos in Oklahoma if tribal exclusive gaming rights are no more.

US.- Gaming compacts are a common mechanism in the US that gives Native American tribes exclusive rights over gambling. However, Oklahoma may soon change tribal gaming as we know it.

The state may reconsider gaming compacts per request of non tribal operators. According to Governor Kevin Stitt, many want to develop Oklahoman venues should the state fail to renew the compact.

Moreover, Gov. Stitt said he’s personally talked with commercial operators. He disclosed they’ve offered to pay the state 18% in taxes should Oklahoma ends tribal gaming exclusivity.

“Let’s open it to everybody then,” Stitt said. “What is operating a casino worth to have (the) exclusive right to do that?”

Voter-approved compacts have long granted Oklahoma’s tribes the sole right to operate casinos in exchange for paying the state exclusivity fees ranging from 4% to 10%.

But Stitt believes the 15-year compacts expire Jan. 1. During an interview last week, he acknowledged discussions with non-tribal operators interested in doing business in Oklahoma.

Stitt and the tribes are fighting over the renewal of the contract, as the official says they’ll have to stop operating on January 1 if they fail to do so. However, tribal gaming operators in Oklahoma assure the compact renews automatically.

Still, they remain in conflict as the state wants more money for exclusivity rights.

“We want to get a market rate, and then let’s have certainty 15 years from now so Oklahoma doesn’t go through this again,” Stitt said. “Let’s call their bluff. Let’s renew it for 15 years, but let’s change the language so it’s more clear, and we all know what’s going to happen 15 years from now.”

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