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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied Gov. Kevin Stitt’s request for a rehearing after the high court ruled Stitt’s compact with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation were invalid and unlawful.
The Supreme Court denied the request on Tuesday, one month after Stitt requested the rehearing, seeking clarification on whether the area of the compacts with the two tribes that allowed sports betting could be severed from the rest of the compact.
The compacts that Stitt made with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation allowed the two tribes to include sports betting in their gaming operations.
The high court ruled in July that the governor can negotiate tribal gaming compacts, but he must do so within the bounds of the State-Tribal Gaming Act. The court said the compacts are prohibited because they allowed gaming that was considered illegal in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman Matthew Morgan released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s rejection of Stitt’s request:
“The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied Gov. Stitt’s request for a rehearing of the petition filed by the Pro Tem and Speaker, after declaring the agreements Gov. Kevin Stitt entered into with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation were invalid and unlawful. This denial of a rehearing further underscores that Governor Stitt’s go-it-alone approach is not legal nor helpful in moving state-tribal relationships forward.”
Matthew Morgan, Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman
The court’s decision is the latest chapter in the ongoing drama that began when Stitt announced in July 2019 that he wanted to renegotiate the 15-year gaming compact that was established between the state and 35 Oklahoma tribes in 2005 and expired on Jan. 1, 2020.
Stitt asserted that tribes should pay the state more in exclusivity fees.
Oklahoma tribes generate $4.5 billion each year from casino-style gaming. Of that revenue, the state takes anywhere from 4 to 10 percent in exclusivity fees.
Stitt’s pursuit of a renegotiated compact came as a shock to tribal leaders.
Tribal leaders said the compact automatically renews and stays in place for another 15 years if a new deal is not reached by the expiration date.
Stitt, on the other hand, argued that Class III gambling in Oklahoma would become illegal if an agreement wasn’t reached by Jan. 1.
The compact expired on Dec. 31, and the tribes filed a federal lawsuit to end uncertainty about the compact.
As the legal rankling went on, Stitt signed the new compact with the Comanche and the Otoe-Missouria tribes.
The Supreme Court, as previously noted, struck down that compact.
Also, the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma agreed with the tribes, ruling in July that the state’s original compact with the 35 tribes automatically renewed on Jan. 1.