Questions raised by government regulators about proposed tribal gaming

Saturday, November 27th 2004, 7:05 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Questions raised by government regulators about proposed tribal gaming compacts with the state reflect the concerns of some tribes about the loss of tribal sovereignty, according to one tribal chief.

But the state's chief negotiator on the compacts said he is not concerned that the government wants to know how Oklahoma's American Indian tribes will benefit from passage of State Question 712.

``Nobody's told me anything that leads me to believe this is a big problem,'' state Finance Director Scott Meacham said.

In a letter obtained Friday by The Oklahoman, a U.S. Interior Department official asks tribes that support the new gambling-expansion law to justify certain aspects of it.

The Nov. 23 letter is written to the Miami Nation, one of at least five Oklahoma tribes to send new gaming compacts to the Interior Department for review. The compacts feature identical language.

Federal law gives the Interior Department the final say on all gaming compacts between tribes and states. If the compacts are rejected, three state horse racing tracks could be prevented from receiving casino games authorized under SQ 712.

Most state-tribal gaming compacts receive federal approval. But in 2002, Interior officials rejected one involving a Louisiana tribe, saying it would have given the state more than the tribe would receive in return.