The gaming tribes that are suing the governor contend the state made a different bargain. They contend the state agreed that the compacts would automatically renew for an additional 15-year term so long as the state authorized anyone else to conduct an electronic form of Class III gaming beyond pari-mutuel horse wagering.
They contend the state has done that annually by licensing the operation of electronic gaming machines at horse racing facilities, as well as some other things like approving the use of the internet in some lottery games.
A lot is at stake financially. Stitt’s attorneys said in a court filing that gaming is now a $4.5 billion a year industry for the tribes. Last year the state received about $148 million in exclusivity fees from tribal gaming operations. Both numbers are expected to drop dramatically this year because of disruptions in operations caused by COVID-19.
Bill Anoatubby, governor of the Chickasaw Nation, issued a statement Friday saying he was anxious to get the legal issues resolved.
“We look forward to moving forward with this agreement that has served all the people of our state very well,” Anoatubby said. “Throughout our history, the people of Oklahoma benefit most when we work together. We plan to continue on as productive partners for the benefit of all.”
“It has been nearly a year since Governor Stitt began the dispute over the compact auto-renewal by publishing an opinion piece in the newspaper instead of meeting with Tribal leaders,” Citizen Potawatomi Nation Tribal Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett added in a prepared statement. “We continue to stand with the other plaintiffs in this case and maintain our position that the Nation’s compact automatically renewed on Jan. 1, 2020 for a 15-year term.”
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