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Osage Nation receives letter from state intending to audit its Class III gaming

Photo caption: Construction work continues on the second hotel tower addition at the Tulsa Osage Casino on Jan. 15. The 145-room tower is slated for completion in August. BENNY POLACCA/Osage News

Along with the other Oklahoma gaming tribes, the Osage Nation Gaming Commission is under notice the state’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services intends to audit the Nation’s exclusivity fees paid to the state from Class III gaming.

The OMES sent a letter dated Dec. 20 to the ONGC in Pawhuska stating its intent to start the audit process on Feb. 24 when an OMES audit team is scheduled to visit the ONGC. At issue and the scope of the audit is the 2018 calendar year, according to the letter, which was stamped as received on Dec. 27.

The letter says the “State Compliance Agency (SCA), also known as the Gaming Compliance Unit with (OMES) conducts annual audits of Enterprise’s conduct of covered games. The SCA has conducted said audits of other Enterprises and is preparing to conduct an investigation of revenue of the Osage Nation’s Class III gaming activity. The objective of the investigation is to determine if the State has received all fees owed from the conduct of covered games pursuant to the terms of the Model Tribal Gaming Compact.”

The three-member ON Gaming Commission board met in executive session with legal counsel on Jan. 6 as allowed by Osage law. Afterward, board members Larraine Wilcox and Gary Weyl unanimously passed a motion authorizing GC Executive Director Elizabeth Hembree to review options for a response to the letter.

As of Jan. 27, Hembree said efforts are still underway on a formal response to the OMES letter.

The OMES letter, signed by Brandy Manek, director of Budget, Policy and Gaming Compliance, outlines various reports subject to audit including those on: daily slot wins, manual vouchers, daily electronic drop by asset, daily electronic drop summary, vouchers expired at slot machine/ cashier, void vouchers, unclaimed manual jackpots and slot analysis.

“At the completion of the investigation, the SCA will forward a written report, including any suspected violations of law or of the Model Tribal Gaming Compact, to the Tribal Compliance Agency and the Office of Governor,” the OMES letter also states.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office called for the audits in wake of his disagreement with the state’s gaming tribes on whether the 15-year gaming compacts expired on Jan. 1, 2020. The gaming tribes argue the compacts automatically renew for another 15-year term, but Stitt disagrees and has told news media he is seeking higher exclusivity rates paid to the state from the tribal casinos Class III gaming activities.


By

Benny Polacca


Original Publish Date: 2020-01-29 00:00:00

Author

  • Benny Polacca

    Title: Senior Reporter

    Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

    Instagram: @bpolacca

    Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

    Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

    Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

    Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

    Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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Benny Polacca
Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org

Title: Senior Reporter

Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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