Native American tribal leaders are at odds with Oklahoma’s Republican governor after they discovered that he plans to renegotiate the tax on revenue generated by the tribal casinos in the state.
Earlier on Monday, in an editorial published in the Tulsa World, Gov. Kevin Stitt called for renegotiating the 4% and 10% of a casino’s net revenue in “exclusivity fees,” paid by tribal gambling establishments citing that the gambling industry in the state has matured.
“In this case, that means sitting down with our tribal partners to discuss how to bring these 15-year-old compacts to an agreement that reflects market conditions for the gaming industry seen around the nation today,” wrote Stitt.
After the voters approved a gambling expansion bill back in2004, over 130 casinos have emerged in the state.
The state grossed $139 million in through the exclusivity fees last year. The total revenue generated was approximately $2.3 billion from games covered under the compacts. These compacts are to be renewed in coming January for a period of another 15 years.
Tribal leaders have said that the money paid as exclusivity fees is not the only contribution they make to the state. The amount spent on health care, education, and infrastructure that benefits all Oklahomans should also be considered.
John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Nation, said: “What I don’t understand, in any of his op-ed, there’s no recognition of the true value of the tribes (Native American tribes) are one of the largest employers in the state. We provide benefits to our employees. We’re probably the most philanthropic group in the state.”
Many tribal leaders have expressed their disappointment with the governor’s suggestions.