State Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments In Battle Over Gaming Contracts

Wednesday, July 1st 2020, 4:58 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper

The battle over two new gaming compacts in Oklahoma has now reached the state supreme court.

On Wednesday morning, attorneys for Governor Kevin Stitt argued their side against attorneys for Senate President Pro Temp Greg Treat and Speaker of the House Charles McCall in front of a Supreme Court referee.

At stake is the battle over executive vs. legislative powers and whether Governor Stitt had the authority to bind the state to new gaming compacts with two Oklahoma tribes.

Back in April, Governor Stitt reached an agreement with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation on two new compacts. Despite some pushback, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved the compacts and on Monday, they officially went into effect.

These two tribes now pay lower exclusivity fees in the short term and can potentially offer sports betting and house banked table games. It also gives them expanded opportunities to build new casinos.

These compacts are being challenged by larger tribes like the Choctaw, Cherokee and Chickasaw, as well as legislative leaders and Attorney General Mike Hunter. They said since sports betting is not currently legal in the state and the legislature has not approved it - the Governor cannot bind the state to it.

The Governor's attorneys told the court today, he does have full power, and argued Senator Treat and Speaker McCall are using the court as a "political pawn".

The state Supreme Court said they do not have a timeline for when a decision will be issued. It is believed the Governor has continued negotiations with other tribes for new compacts.