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Tribes continue to share gaming revenues in Oklahoma despite dispute with governor


Tribes in Oklahoma continue to share Class III gaming revenues with the state even though the Republican governor claims their agreements expired on January 1.Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) even suggested putting the revenues into a special escrow fund while the dispute he initiated is worked out in federal court. But his proposal violates state law, Attorney General Mike Hunter (R) said in a legal opinion on Monday.“We are not aware of any authority by which the state can deposit these monies in any fund other than those already mentioned,” Hunter wrote in the four-page opinion, which was requested by a Republican lawmaker in hopes of clearing up uncertainties about the revenues.Since 2004, when voters approved Class III gaming through State Question 712, tribes have paid $1.28 billion to the state, according to theOklahoma Gaming Compliance Unit’s most recent report. The money is derived from a percentage of revenue from electronic devices such as slot machines, as well as revenue from table games like blackjack and ball and dice games.The funds are directed to a variety of programs, with most of it going to public education. TheOklahoma Indian Gaming Associationsaid tribes continue to honor their commitments to the state.“We are pleased today’s AG opinion makes it clear money from our exclusivity fees will continue to flow smoothly to public school districts across our state as outlined in the renewed compact,” OIGA Chairman Matthew Morgan said in a statement on Monday. “The tribes will continue fulfilling our responsibilities as described in the renewed compact.””We are also united in our support for Oklahoma’s public education system and pleased the vast majority of the exclusivity fees go toward helping public school districts across our state,” Morgan said. “Public school districts depend on the money from our exclusivity fees, particularly rural schools. The tribes will continue to remit exclusivity fees, and we are pleased public school districts will continue to receive their payments from the state in a timely fashion.”Read More on the Story

OK AG: Gaming exclusivity fees can’t be put in escrow (KFOR March 9, 2020)
Tribal gaming fees can’t be put in escrow, countering Gov. Stitt’s proposal, AG says (The Tulsa World March 9, 2020)
Attorney General: Gov. Stitt cannot put tribal gaming money in escrow (The Oklahoman March 9, 2020)Note: Thumbnail photo of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, owned and operated by the Cherokee Nation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from Anadisgoi

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