- By Native News Online Staff
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has asked a federal court to stop American Indian tribes from operating Class III gaming in Oklahoma.
Stitt’s legal filing yesterday is in response to a federal lawsuit filed by three powerful Oklahoma tribes a month ago. The Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Oklahoma. The suit seeks a judicial declaration that the gaming compacts they have with the state automatically renew in accord with their terms, effective January 1, 2020.
The tribes continue to operate Class III gaming, despite Gov. Stitt’s contention that the compacts expired January 1. Class III gaming includes roulette, craps and certain slot machines.
Stitt’s response to the tribes’ lawsuit was filed Wednesday. In the legal filing, he asks the court to declare the compacts did not automatically renew and that the tribes are violating federal and state laws by continuing to operate the Class III games. He is seeking a court-ordered injunction to stop the tribes from operating the Class III games.
“We are reviewing the pleading his lawyers filed on his behalf and look forward to learning what legal basis he will claim to justify the uncertainty he has endeavored to create,” Chickasaw Nation Senior Counsel Stephen Greetham told the Associated Press.
The gaming compacts at issue require tribes to pay the state “exclusivity fees” of between 4% and 10% on gambling revenue in exchange for exclusivity rights to operate casinos in Oklahoma. The exclusivity fees paid by tribes generated nearly $139 million for the state last year, with most of it earmarked for education funding.
Celebrating 10 years of Native News...
We launched Native News Online back in February 2011 with the belief that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. We hope it inspires you to celebrate our first decade with a gift of $10 or more to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.