May 6, 2020 Sports Betting, Tribal, Legal

Oklahoma attorney general challenges new tribal compacts

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Oklahoma attorney general Mike Hunter has questioned the legitimacy of new gaming compacts agreed by governor Kevin Stitt and two Oklahoma tribes.

Two tribes, the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation, recently signed new gaming compacts with Stitt, which approve sports wagering as well as adding new terms to the overall gaming compact.

But Hunter has released an official attorney general opinion which states Stitt lacks the authority to allow sports betting, as it is prohibited by state law in Oklahoma.

In a nine-page opinion, Hunter wrote: "The governor can no more permit gambling prohibited by state criminal law via unilateral compact than he could agree to allow a tribe to sell illicit controlled substances to members of the public in Indian country.

"The governor lacks the authority to unilaterally bind the state to compacts with Indian tribes that authorize activity prohibited by state law."

Stitt is in the middle of an ongoing dispute with Oklahoma’s tribes over the extension of their gaming compacts.

While two tribes have signed an agreement with the governor, several are involved in a legal dispute over the matter.

Defending the new compacts, Baylee Lakey, the governor's communications director, said: “These compacts are unquestionably legal and deliver unprecedented guarantees of clarity, stability, and transparency for all Sovereign parties, and for the benefit of all four million Oklahomans.”

Meanwhile, Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association chairman Matthew L. Morgan praised Hunter’s opinion: "Oklahoma and the tribes deserve better than the carelessness governor Stitt has brought to the table; the attorney general’s analysis encourages us we will be able to re-establish the sort of tribal-state engagement that conforms to the law and serves all of us well.”

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