Oklahoma’s Attorney General Joins Gaming Compacts Lawsuit

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Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt speaks during a roundtable discussion. SAUL LOEB / AFP.

It’s a battle at the top for gambling in Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Gentner Drummond, will represent the state in a court case targeting deals on Native American casino games that Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt set up.

The lawsuit asks the federal court to invalidate the Interior Department’s indirect approval of the compacts. The agreements outline the rules for and the payments that the Native American tribes must make to the state to run gambling businesses in Oklahoma.

Drummond believes these deals were against the law because Stitt didn’t follow Oklahoma’s legal rules. He says Stitt’s actions have damaged Oklahoma’s relationship with the Native American tribes. Drummond laid out his concerns in a letter he wrote to Stitt. “Oklahoma’s relationship with our tribal partners has suffered greatly as a result of your divisive rhetoric and refusal to follow the law,” Drummond wrote. 

“The citizens you were elected to serve are the ones who suffer from this irresponsible approach. Instead of working in partnership with tribal leaders to enact compacts that benefit all four million Oklahomans, you insist on costly legal battles that only benefit the elite law firms you hire. Millions of dollars of state resources have been squandered on these futile efforts.”

Stitt contends that Drummond lacks the authority to manage the lawsuits or engage in discussions regarding the agreements between the state and tribal governments.

Oklahoma Gaming Battle Goes Back to 2020

The lawsuit originated from the gaming agreements that Governor Stitt made with four Native American tribes – the Comanche Nation, the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, the Kialegee Tribal Town, and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. They were sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2020.

At that time, Matthew Morgan, the chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, immediately challenged the compact’s legality, along with Oklahoma’s Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall sued Stitt.

They contested the governor’s right to sign the compacts without the legislature’s approval. The Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed, declaring the agreements the governor signed invalid.

Before Drummond got involved on Tuesday, the latest updates in the case were about a “notice of recent authority” that was submitted on July 12 by an assistant U.S. attorney general. This notice was about a decision made on June 30 by the D.C. Court of Appeals regarding an agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. 

The Department of the Interior approved this agreement in 2021, which included the operation of online sports betting. The appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision and decided that the agreement was valid, noting that it followed the rules of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Where Does the Case Go From Here?

Drummond claims millions have been spent on legal battles with the tribes since Stitt took office, and he’s trying to repair the damage Stitt’s done to state-tribal relations.

Stitt has not commented on the action. So, we’ll wait to see how this battle plays out. Bookmakers Review will continue to follow the developments.