Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (WAT) Sues Oklahoma
An Oklahoma-based Native American Tribe is taking a stand against the state of Oklahoma in what they are claiming is a violation of the gaming compacts between the two sides. The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes are claiming that they should not have to pay the state casino revenue shares after the state has violated their agreement.
The whole argument centers around the state lottery, and The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes claim that it has violated their gaming exclusivity rights.
A lawsuit was filed earlier this week by the WAT in federal court, and they have made some strong opening arguments. The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes believe that a second-chance promotion offered by the Oklahoma State Lottery violates their compact agreement.
Residents can take advantage of this promotion while being on WAT lands, which takes away from them having exclusive rights over video gaming. The Wichita Affiliated Tribes are seeking damages from the state as a part of the lawsuit, and they are also hoping to be able to stop mcasaking revenue sharing payments to the state.
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Governor Stitt Sued By Tribes
This lawsuit is the newest in a string of disputes between the Native American tribes in the state, the state of Oklahoma, and with Governor Kevin Stitt himself. All of the tribes in the state have come together in the lawsuit against Governor Stitt, but the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes have started their own lawsuit as a way to go on the offensive.
The original lawsuit is between Stitt and at least 35 tribal groups in the state. The issue centers around an identical compact that was signed in 2004 and expired on December 31, 2019.
The Native American tribes are arguing that the compact should have rolled over into 2020, but Governor Stitt urged lawmakers to renegotiate the compact in hopes of receiving larger revenue sharing payments from the tribes.
The amount of money that tribes paid to the state as part of the 2004 compact differed depending on the types of games that they offered. Most of the payments were between 4 and 10 percent, and the total number paid to the state equaled over $150 million.
The state of Oklahoma uses that money to fund education, although some of the money is divided up to other groups in the state as well. Governor Stitt is hoping to raise the percentage that the tribes must pay, although a number was not given as to how much he wanted them to pay.
Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw tribes were the leaders of the initial lawsuit, but the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes also joined in as a member of that lawsuit. A federal judge ordered that the tribes and Governor Stitt participate in mediation to resolve those issues, but that has not yet taken place.
So far, none of the major tribes in the state have joined the WAT in this new lawsuit, but the group is hoping to gain support in the coming weeks. It is also unclear as to how this new lawsuit will impact the ongoing lawsuit against Governor Stitt, but it will go in front of a federal judge at some point.
Most of the tribes in the state of Oklahoma would be satisfied to continue making the payments at the same rate, but Wichita and Affiliated Tribes are now hoping to pay nothing to the state. The WAT do present a valid argument, and there has already been a precedence set that a federal judge could use.
The state of California sued tribal nations for offering online bingo on their property, which was not allowed under state law. This case is basically a reversal of that one, and a federal judge ruled that the State of California was the winner in that case.