OK Tribes Ask Federal Court to Void Compacts

Last month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court declared that Governor Kevin Stitt had overstepped his authority by entering into a gambling compact with two tribes – and leaving out another four. Stitt’s deals with the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouira Tribe would have allowed them to offer betting on sports events and house-banked card and table games.

Another four tribes (the Choctaw, the Citizen Potawatomie Nations, the Chickasaw and the Cherokee), took the governor to the higher court, claiming that he ignored state gambling laws pertaining to gambling compacts

The Supreme Court agreed with the four tribes; however, the tribes then decided to ask go one step further and asked the US District Court in Washington, DC to declare that the Department of Interior was in violation of federal law by allowing the agreements between Stitt and the two other tribes to take effect.

Attorneys for the four tribes said in a statement:

“While the Oklahoma Supreme Court has declared those agreements invalid under Oklahoma law, their validity under Federal law must also be addressed to avoid damage to the integrity of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Tribes filed this suit to protect IGRA’s established framework and the Tribal operations conducted under it.”

The four tribes have the backing of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, which says that the governor has never had the legal authority to enter the gaming agreements with the Comanche and the Otoe-Missouria Tribes. The association added that it was “sad” that Stitt had placed the tribal governments in this position.

The governor is not going down without a fight. A brief filed by his office claimed that taking the issue to a federal court was “latest in a series of efforts by legislators to wrest away” the governor’s executive authority to negotiate and enter into compacts with tribes.”

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