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Oklahoma Attorney General Joins Federal Lawsuit Over Gaming Compacts

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on July 26, 2023
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt faces lawsuit over Oklahoma tribal gaming compacts

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is rolling up his sleeves and joining a federal lawsuit against Gov. Kevin Stitt. The reason is Drummond claims the four Oklahoma gaming compacts signed by the governor in 2020 were invalid. 

Drummond joins the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Citizen Potawatomi and Choctaw nations who filed a federal lawsuit in a federal district court in Washington over the governor’s tribal gambling compacts. 

AG claims tribal gaming compacts are invalid

In 2020, Stitt signed new tribal gaming compacts with four state tribes:

  1. Kialegee Tribal Town
  2. Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
  3. Comanche Nation
  4. Otoe-Missouria Tribe

In a letter to the governor, Drummond 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.”

According to an article by the Associated Press, since 2020, Stitt’s relationship with tribal leaders has continued to trend downward, prompting criticism from fellow Republican lawmakers. As a result, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said state lawmakers might consider taking control of future compact negotiations. 

Gov. Stitt’s gaming compacts violate state law

Back in 2020, Matthew Morgan, the chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, immediately challenged the compact’s legality. At the time, Morgan agreed with the state legislature and then AG Mike Hunter that Stitt unilaterally entered into new gaming agreements with tribal nations violating state law.

In his compact with Kialegee Tribal Town, Stitt approved the construction of a new casino in eastern Oklahoma County. Similarly, the governor authorized a new casino for the United Keetoowah Band in Logan County. 

“Gov. Stitt’s actions have caused unnecessary strife, costly litigation and have wasted the state’s resources,” Morgan said. 

In addition to tribes attempting to move outside their jurisdictional boundaries, Morgan said the governor is trying to offer items outside his authority — “in terms of crafting gaming compacts outside of the model compact process authorized by state law.” 

Photo by Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo; illustrated by PlayUSA
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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