Oklahoma: Iowa Nation faces delays in casino construction due to compact issues

November 20, 2023
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The Nation aims to open a new casino in 2026.

In Oklahoma, the Iowa Nation has recently said that plans to build a new casino could be delayed due to compact issues, according to a KFOR local news report.

Chairman Jacob Keyes told local news that the Iowa Nation is looking to start construction next April and open to the public in the middle of 2026.

Keyes said the Tribe began having “compact issues” with Governor Kevin Stitt in 2019. The Nation had planned to construct an exit ramp off the Turner Turnpike, an idea Stitt opposed.

However, the pushback has not been limited to the Iowa Nation. Ongoing controversy between Stitt and the Oklahoma’s Tribes began when the Governor failed to renegotiate the compacts in 2019, claiming voter-approved deals from 2004 had expired.

The negotiation pushed for the state to gain larger shares of Tribes’ gaming revenue.

This resulted in a legal battle, which started after several Tribes, including the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Citizen Potawatomi and Choctaw nations, sued in Washington’s federal district court because of Stitt’s compacts with the Comanche Nation, the Otoe-Missouria, the Kialegee Tribal Town and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.

Governor Stitt recently laid out a Tribal gaming compact proposal that would raise exclusivity fees by 6% to 13%.

Keyes told local news that the Governor’s current compact presentations are “completely off the table for us.” He went on to add that Stitt’s proposals are not in the best interest of the Iowa Nation or to other state Tribes.

The Governor’s Communications Director Abegail Cave told local news that the proposed fees can potentially benefit all Oklahoma residents.

She commented, “It’s difficult for me to understand how a 13% exclusivity fee is a bad deal.

"We’re unsure what exclusivity fees would be agreeable to the Iowa Tribe, but we can surely all agree that all Oklahomans are benefitted by higher fees that go to public services such as education and mental health services.”

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