Federal Judge: Oklahoma Tribal Compacts Auto-Renewed January 1 for 15 Years

Oklahoma’s compacts with more than 30 Tribes automatically renewed on January 1, 2020 for another 15-year term, an Oklahoma federal judge determined yesterday. The compacts are not subject to renegotiating.  

The ruling hands a victory to the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations who sued Gov. Kevin Stitt on December 31st. The Citizen Nation Potawatomi, Muscogee Creek Nation, Quapaw Nation, Delaware, Seminole, Wichita and affiliated Tribes also intervened in the federal lawsuit. 

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy DeGiusti rejected Stitt’s insistence that the compacts had expired. Stitt had sought to renegotiate the agreements to allocate the state a higher percentage of revenue sharing from Tribally owned and operated casinos in Oklahoma. 

“We appreciated that the court moved quickly to confirm … the plain language of our intergovernmental agreements mean what they mean, and here, those words mean our gaming compacts automatically renewed January 1, 2020,” stated Matthew Morgan, chair of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association. 

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. also released a statement underscoring that the ruling affirmed what the Tribe knew to be true. 

“The Cherokee Nation is pleased with today’s ruling which affirms what our tribal nations have known from the beginning, that our gaming compacts with the state of Oklahoma renewed on Jan. 1 for another 15 years. Tribal gaming in this state will continue to be strong, not only for tribes, but for all of Oklahoma, contributing vital education dollars into our public schools and bolstering health care, roads and communities,” Chief Hoskin said. “Everything in our compact now remains the same, and we hope we can move forward and build a relationship built on respect with Gov. Stitt in the future.” 

Just last week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the two gaming compacts Gov. Kevin Stitt negotiated in April with two Tribes, the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, are not valid under state law. The high court ruled Stitt lacked the authority to bind the state with respect to the new Tribal gaming compacts. 

READ MORE: Okla. Supreme Court Rules Gov. Stitt Overstepped Authority, Gaming Compacts Invalid