Government , Business , Legal

DOI publishes approval for Otoe-Missouria and Comanche gaming compacts

Photo caption: The Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe signed new gaming compacts with Gov. Kevin Stitt. KTUL Channel 8

Despite pending lawsuits in both state and federal court, two new gaming compacts are now in effect.

On June 29, the Department of Interior published approval notices for gaming compacts signed in April by the state of Oklahoma, the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Comanche Nation.

The compacts were “deemed approved” June 8 thanks to a lack of action by the federal government within the 45-day window allowed under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but could not take effect until the formal notice was published in the Federal Register.

Under the terms of the new agreements, both tribes will pay an exclusivity fee starting at 4.5 percent on revenue generated by Class III games at their existing casinos. If additional casinos are opened, then the exclusivity fee increases to 6 percent. That is on top of the annual oversight fee ranging from $25,000 to $250,000, depending on how much revenue is generated.

The new compacts also have the governor’s endorsement for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation to open up new facilities in specific counties that are outside of their jurisdictional areas in exchange for higher exclusivity fees.

Section 20 of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act includes provisions for tribes to take land into trust outside of their jurisdictional area if certain conditions are met, including approval from state officials.

The Comanche Nation’s compact allows for one new facility each in Grady, Cleveland and Love counties, while the Otoe-Missouria’s compact would allow for one new casino each in Logan, Payne and Noble counties.   

Additionally, the Otoe-Missouria and Comanche compacts include provisions allowing sports betting at two brick and mortar locations and online sports betting. That revenue will be subject to an additional 1.1 percent fee and any sports betting vendors brought on board by either tribe would be subject to approval by the state first.

Sports betting is not among the games listed in the Oklahoma Tribal Gaming Act. An Oklahoma Supreme Court referee is scheduled to hear arguments at 10:30 a.m. on July 1 in a related lawsuit from state Speaker of the House Charles McCall (R-Atoka) and President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) over whether Gov. Kevin Stitt overstepped his authority by signing compacts that include sports betting and other terms not explicitly included in that act without consulting the state legislature.

Meanwhile, litigation is still pending in the Western District of Oklahoma between the governor and nine tribes over the status of the model state-tribal gaming compact used by more than 30 tribes, including the Osage Nation.

Tribes involved in the lawsuit include the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Citizen Potawatomi and Delaware nations; the Quapaw Tribe and Wichita and Affiliated Tribes.