The casino gambling landscape in Oklahoma has been marred by the conflict between the tribal casino operators and the Governor’s office. This year the conflict has taken a new turn as three of the most powerful tribes in the state have filed a lawsuit against the state governor seeking the court’s intervention.
However, with uncertainty looming amidst the standoff, the business has been as usual at the state’s tribal casinos. The compact with the state was to end on January 1 and the licensed operators had to renegotiate terms (as per the state governor’s office), however, the casinos decided otherwise and have continued with operations as usual.
The contention between Gov. Kevin Stitt and state’s tribal casino operators is that according to the Stitt the compact that allows tribal casino operators to continue business in the state has lapsed on January 1, 2020. But the tribes, on the other hand, are firm that their compacts have been automatically renewed for another term of 15 years.
The tribes in Oklahoma have to pay an exclusivity fee as a part of the compact with the state to run its casinos.
In a statement to the press, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd said that its River Spirit Casino Resort was full on New Year’s Eve and it was amongst the busiest nights.
“Our hotel was sold out weeks in advance, which means a significant number of our guests were referred to other Tulsa hotels,” Floyd said. “Additionally, our restaurant reservations were also booked leading up to the holiday, so nearby restaurants benefited directly from the proximity to River Spirit.
“Today, on Jan. 1, we continue to honor our commitments to our employees, to our citizens, to our guests, and to the State of Oklahoma by ensuring our operations continue as usual and without disruption.”
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said: “As we welcome the new year, Cherokee casinos will continue to do business as usual.”
“I want our customers, our vendors and the staff at our casinos to know that we are confident in the auto-renewal of the gaming compact,” he added.