State Supreme Court rules against signed gaming compacts

The Oklahoma State Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that two recent tribal gaming compacts entered by Gov. Kevin Stitt are invalid under Oklahoma law. One of those compacts appears it will delay a proposed casino in Logan County.

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The court concluded Stitt exceeded his authority in entering into the tribal gaming compacts with the Otoe-Missouria and Comanche Nation Tribes earlier this year.

“The Oklahoma Supreme Court doesn’t have jurisdiction to invalidate our compact when state and federal law dictates that our compact is legal,” Otoe-Missouria Tribe Chairman John R. Shotton said in a release.

Earlier this year, Stitt entered into a compact with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, which laid out the possibility of a casino coming to Logan County. Related article: New tribal compact proposes a casino in Logan County

Soon after the compact was signed, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall said the governor lacks authority to enter into and bind the state to compacts with Indian tribes that authorize gaming activity prohibited by state law. Related article: Attorney General: Governor cannot enter into compacts that authorize gaming activity prohibited by state law

“The Supreme Court affirmed what my office has opined, and the pro tem of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives have argued all along, the governor lacks the authority to enter into and bind the state to compacts with Indian tribes that authorize gaming activity prohibited by state law,” Hunter said.

“We applaud today’s ruling and appreciate the court for carefully looking at this and coming to an apt conclusion. We hope this settles and advances the resolution of gaming compact negotiations.”

Treat said the governor acted outside of his boundary.

“This ruling confirms what we have maintained all along: There are parameters defined by statute that must be followed in the negotiation of and entering into tribal gaming compacts,” Treat (R-Oklahoma City) said in a release.

“This has always been about preserving the separation of powers among the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. When one branch of government acts outside of its authority, the other branches must take steps to restore the balance of power. This is a victory for the rule of law and preserves the foundational principle of checks and balances upon which our government is based.”

Until the state Legislature enacts laws to allow the specific Class III gaming at issue, the State of Oklahoma is not and cannot be legally bound by those compacts.

“We have said all along we do not plan to offer house-banked card and table games and event wagering until they are authorized by state law,” Shotton explained. “Indeed, this condition was part of the compact, and it was unfortunately overlooked by the Court. We will continue to operate under the remaining terms of our compact pursuant to the severability clause of the compact, and we will refrain from operating any game that is not authorized under state law.”

Related article: Governor signs compact for Logan County casino
Related article: Governor, local legislators visit on gaming compact with tribal members

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