OKLAHOMA CITY— The gaming question that has been in the U.S. Western District Court of Oklahoma since Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt attempted to force tribal nations to come back to the negotiating table for a new gaming deal has been answered by Chief United States District Judge Timothy DeGiusti on July 28.
According to DeGiusti’s ruling, ‘The Court finds that Plaintiff’s (the gaming tribes) and Intervenors Compacts with the State of Oklahoma automatically renewed for an additional 15-year term on Jan. 1.’
The case was originally filed in the western district court on Dec. 31, 2019. In 2019, Gov. Stitt took to news outlets with opinion pieces urging tribes to come to the table. Gaming tribes maintained they had never had formal invitation for negotiations, and maintained that the agreement would renew without such negotiations.
Part of the States view was ‘a timely request for renegotiations triggers the opposing party’s obligation to engage in negotiations as a condition of precedent to renewal.”
The Court found that argument not to be supported in the language of the compacts and unsupported by the facts.
One of the problems with the State’s request is that their stance requested a renegotiation of the entire Compact and so the court rules that their arguments did not effectively invoke special provisions of negotiations.
The tribes further upheld their stance on the gaming compact renewal by pointing out ‘the undisputed organization licensees (horse racetracks) have been authorized, and are currently authorized, to conduct electronic gaming as well as betting on live horse racing.’
Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, a state agency created by state law to oversee horse racing, racetrack personnel, and organization licensees, allowed racetracks to engage in pari-mutuel wagering on live horse racing.
According to compact language the authorization of those entities to execute electronic gaming also engages reauthorization for the tribes compacts to renew for an additional 15 years or until such time that both parties mutually agree to the negotiations.
The Court further ordered that each party should inform the Court of any remaining issues for decision no later than August 7.