Why is there discussion of gaming compact renegotiation?
On July 8, 2019, tribal leaders were surprised when Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt published an op-ed in the Tulsa World stating his intention to renegotiate tribal-state gaming compacts before the renewal in January 2020. Gov. Stitt did not meet with tribal leaders prior to publishing the op-ed to discuss the inter-governmental agreement that has served both tribes and the state well since its inception in 2005.
Do tribal gaming facilities share revenue with the state of Oklahoma?
Tribes pay the State of Oklahoma an exclusivity fee ranging from 4 to 10 percent of revenue generated by games covered under the compact. Tribes pay the exclusivity fee in exchange for specific commitments made by the state. When looking solely at direct payments, Oklahoma tribes have provided more than $1.5 billion in exclusivity fees since 2006.
When looking at the broader economic impact, the American Gaming Association estimates tribal gaming contributes $1.6 billion annually to the Oklahoma economy based on revenue-share payments and employment-related taxation. In fact, Oklahoma is second only to California in terms of annual economic impact, and on a per-state-resident basis, California receives about $89/resident while Oklahoma receives $407/resident.
What do other states receive in exclusivity fees from tribes and the gaming industry?
Thirty-nine percent of tribal-state gaming compacts have an exclusivity rate of zero, while 56 percent of compacts have a rate of less than 10 percent. Tribes in Oklahoma pay an exclusivity fee ranging from 4 to 10 percent. Governor Stitt has stated that “most” rates across the country are between 20% and 25%, but according to the most recent available data, only 5 percent provide rates that high.
Did voters approve tribal gaming in 2004?
A majority of Oklahoma voters—59.47 percent—approved State Question 712, which enacted the State-Tribal Gaming Act.
Do the current State-Tribal gaming compacts automatically renew?
Yes. All requirements necessary for automatic renewal have been satisfied. Therefore, the compacts automatically renew for an additional 15-year term. While the terms of the agreement allow either party to request renegotiation of certain terms (revenue-sharing rates and exclusivity mechanisms) within 180 days of the renewal date, a request to renegotiate those certain terms has no effect on compact renewal.
What kind of impact does tribal gaming have on the Oklahoma economy?
The gaming industry has become a significant driver of Oklahoma’s economy, employing more than 55,000 Oklahomans, primarily in rural areas, and paying more than $1.5 billion in exclusivity fees over the past 15 years, mostly for public education. In response to the exclusive fee arrangement outlined in the compacts, tribes have invested hundreds of millions of additional dollars into education, roads, health care, public safety and tourism to support the betterment of our state for the benefit of all Oklahomans.
How many tribes in Oklahoma are engaged in tribal gaming?
Thirty-five of the 39 tribes in Oklahoma have signed inter-governmental gaming compacts.
What is the tribes’ position?
The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes signed a resolution on July 12, 2019 in opposition to Gov. Stitt’s attempt to repudiate the State-Tribal Gaming Compacts. This resolution rejected both the state’s attempt to terminate the compact and the state’s request to negotiate an entirely new Class III gaming compact. The resolution supports the continued exclusivity fee structure and amounts outlined in the compact.
Additionally, 29 tribes signed a letter on July 23, 2019 reiterating they are under no obligation to renegotiate the state’s gaming compacts but would be receptive to hearing a proposal from Gov. Stitt if he were to request a renegotiation conversation. The Nine Tribes in Ottawa County signed a similar resolution. On August 22, 2019, 34 tribes signed a resolution indicating a unified commitment to the terms of the gaming compact and a request that Gov. Stitt acknowledge the auto-renewal under Part 15 before any substantive proposal would be considered. On September 9, 2019, the Osage Nation signed a resolution standing with the other tribes in Oklahoma and expressing the same position presented at the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes.
On October 15, 2019, 30 tribal nations signed a response to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter seeking to secure the proper interpretation of Part 15.B—the evergreen clause—of the state-tribal gaming compacts. That letter was followed by an October 28 meeting between tribal leaders and AG Hunter. Following the discussion, on November 5, 2019, 31 tribal nations sent a letter addressing the State’s argument against automatic compact renewal, noting it is not supported by any facts or law. As a result, they concluded that arbitration is not presently justified.
Source: Resolution No. 19-17, adopted on July 12, 2019
Source: Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association letter from 29 tribal nations to Gov. Stitt, July 23, 2019
Source: Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association letter from 34 tribal nations to Gov. Stitt, August 22, 2019
Source: Osage Nation Resolution NO. ONCR 19-19, adopted on September 9, 2019
Source: Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association letter to Attorney General Hunter, October 15, 2019
Source: Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association letter to Attorney General Hunter, November 5, 2019
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