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Suspension of Tribal Gaming Mediation Attempt Requested by Oklahoma Governor

Wednesday, June, 10, 2020

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has requested the federal judge overseeing the tribal gaming legal dispute in the state suspend mediation negotiations until he can rule on the extent of the governor’s authority to participate in binding gaming contacts.


According to the governor’s attorney, "Clarification is needed that the governor has 'full settlement authority' since the governor alone is authorized to negotiate and enter into tribal gaming compacts on behalf of the state.”


At the moment, doubt has been cast on the governor’s authority to enter into compacts that would allow sports betting and table games. These things are not permitted under Oklahoma law. The governor is now asking that the extent of his authority be determined by the court before he returns to good faith negotiations with tribes concerning these matters.


According to the communications director for Oklahoma’s attorney general, tribes must negotiate compacts with states before offering any class III games. They can offer class II games, which include things like bingo and traditional tribal games without entering into compacts.


The governor asked for clarification when the AG and other tribes raised objections after he entered into compacts with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe. These compact included approval for card and table games, as well as sports betting. Lawmakers, other tribes, and more have called the compacts illegal because of those gaming options being illegal under state law. The governor previously argued in federal court filings that the compacts are legal because Oklahoma law authorizes some forms of class III gaming.