OK AG: Governor lacked authority to strike tribal compacts
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has issued an official opinion stating that Governor Kevin Stitt lacks authority to agree compacts with Indian gaming tribes that authorize gaming activity, namely sports betting, prohibited by state law.
Hunter, who first questioned the validity of the new compacts with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Comanche Nation in April, has therefore asked Secretary of the Interior David Berhardt to reject the agreements. The Interior Department must ratify the compacts before they can come into force.
The new compacts aimed to allow each tribe to significantly expand the range of Class III games they could offer, including betting on a range of sports. However, the State-Tribal Gaming Act only allows state officials to agree compacts for products not prohibited under state law.
That act specifically prohibits the operation of slot machines, house-banked card games, house-banked table games involving dice or roulette wheels and “games where winners are determined by the outcome of a sporting contest”.
This, Hunter explained, means that not only do the compacts deviate from the State-Tribal Gaming Act, but they also fail to comply with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The federal act only permits compacts to be brokered by those with the authority to enter into such an agreement.
“Because the Governor lacks authority to ‘enter into’ the agreements he has sent to you, those agreements fail to meet the requirements of IGRA to constitute a valid gaming compact under federal law,” Hunter told Berhardt.
“How a state enters into a gaming compact with a tribe, including whether the Governor may do so unilaterally in contravention of state statute, is a core concern of the state’s constitutional structure and is therefore a matter of state law.”
Read the full story on iGB North America.