While the state government still views gambling in their state to be illegal, the U.S. Department of the Interior agreed to allow the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Comanche Nation to offer sports betting and to build casinos in the state.
It is unclear when this will happen, but both tribes have the funding and the resources to launch casinos. Meanwhile, the state government has been fighting to keep them from offering gambling.
“The tribes cannot begin operating under the terms of these compacts until the many questions that remain pending before the Oklahoma Supreme Court are resolved,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said. “I am deeply disappointed in Interior Secretary (David) Bernhardt’s abdication of his responsibility to all of Oklahoma’s Native American sovereigns, not just two.”
There has already been some gambling in Oklahoma offered by other tribes. But no sports gambling and the tribes have had to keep their casinos away from well-populated areas. The two tribes who got permission to open casinos this week got permission to open them near urban and suburban areas. This will allow many more people than before to access the casinos and enjoy gambling.
The leadership of the Cherokee Nation said he disapproved of the federal action.
“The Department of the Interior dodged the question and left the governor, Comanche Nation, and Otoe-Missouria Tribe looking at months or years of continued litigation,” Chuck Hoskin of the Cherokee Nation said, as reported by Cherokee Phoenix. “It’s hard to see how any of this equals a ‘win’ for Governor Stitt or for the citizens of Oklahoma.”
The move comes as many states are legalizing various forms of gambling – from Michigan to Colorado to West Virginia. In times when income taxes are falling states need new ways to generate revenue. Legalizing online or on-site, casino gambling is seen as a mostly cost-free way to raise additional revenue through taxation.
Opponents say it will lead to additional problems with gambling addiction as newer players discover the casinos and eventually run into problems.