CATOOSA, Okla. (AP) The Cherokee Nation made $2 million in payments to the state and horse racing industry Wednesday as part of a compact that allows the tribe's casinos to offer new electronic games.
Money from the first 450 Class III games installed by the tribe in the Tulsa area must be set aside to be used as purses for the horse racing industry, as payment to a Tulsa County race track that does not have electronic games and as revenue to the state for education.
"Just as we were first in the state to play cards under the compact, we are proud to be the first tribe in Tulsa to offer these new electronic games," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith at the tribe's Catoosa casino. "We assume other tribes in the area will follow our lead, but we are proud to be the first."
Most of the money -- almost $1.4 million -- goes to the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission to be used for horseman's purses.
Smith distributed another $292,950 to the state treasury to be used for education. The Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority, which operates Fair Meadows racetrack in Tulsa, received $333,332.
"This is a long awaited day for horsemen in Oklahoma," said Debbie Schauf, executive director for the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association. "It is a lifeline to save our horse industry."
The tribe said future payments under its compact with the state will be distributed on a monthly basis.