Four Oklahoma Tribes File New Federal Lawsuit Over Gaming Compacts

Monday, August 10th 2020, 6:26 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper


Four Oklahoma tribes have filed a new federal lawsuit against Governor Kevin Stitt, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and two tribal chairmen over Indian gaming compacts signed with two tribes.

The new 97-page federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC.

It asks the federal government to void two gaming compacts in Oklahoma that the Governor signed with the Otoe-Missouria tribe and Comanche Nation back in April, which allows those two tribes to initially pay lower rates to the state.

It comes three weeks after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the Governor had no authority to enter into the compacts because it included casino games not currently legal under Oklahoma law.

Despite that ruling though, both the Otoe-Missouria tribe and Comanche Nation pushed back saying the Oklahoma Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over it and the US Department of Interior already allowed it. In previous statements, they said they will follow the legal portions of the compacts and not offer gaming not allowed by law.

Now, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Citizen Potawatomi Nation are all asking for a ruling by a federal court because they say it damages the integrity of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by allowing the compacts to remain.

The Governor's staff said they won't comment on pending litigation, but statements from those filing the lawsuit are attached below.

The team of attorneys for the tribes involved issued the following statement:

“Four Tribes today initiated a lawsuit to declare the Comanche Nation’s and Otoe-Missouria Tribe’s gaming agreements invalid for purposes of Federal law. While the Oklahoma Supreme Court has declared those agreements invalid under Oklahoma law, their validity under Federal law must also be addressed to avoid damage to the integrity of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, a statute that provides the bedrock to a significant portion of Oklahoma’s economy. The Tribes filed this suit to protect IGRA’s established framework and the Tribal operations conducted under it.”

Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman Matthew L. Morgan responds to new lawsuit filed by four tribes

"The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association is aware of the court filing by the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Citizen Potawatomi Nations regarding the validity of the gaming agreements of the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe. It is sad that Governor Stitt has placed the tribal governments in this position. OIGA continues to support our members’ rights to protect the integrity of their treaty territories and thank these tribal governments for their work in protecting the Class III framework established by State Question 712 as approved by a vote of citizens of the State of Oklahoma. 
As we have stated from the beginning, Governor Stitt never had the legal authority to enter into these gaming agreements. The decision of the Oklahoma Supreme Court to declare those agreements invalid under Oklahoma law supported our position. Hopefully the suit filed today will bring an end to this unnecessary and costly chapter and allow all the state and tribal governments to move back to a proper government-to-government relationship that includes honest and respectful communications for the betterment of all of Oklahoma."