Patrick B. McGuigan
The government of Oklahoma is poised to allow “ball and dice” gambling, to make tribal gaming here even more like the high-stakes games customary in places like Las Vegas.
To garner several million dollars, the state is on its way to leaving billions in revenue on the table. The practical effect of an emerging statute is to crack open, two years early, compact provisions that must and should be renegotiated more favorably to smaller tribes, and to the state as a whole.
To add further insult to injury, the Tenth Circuit Court has ruled that enforcement provisions in current compacts are unenforceable.
In the end, the measure that is expanding tribal gaming may not afford the larger tribes a “land fix” that has many people inside and outside the legal system worried.
However, echoing observers of Indian Country for decades, the worry is that a legal regime is emerging that will establish two categories of citizens in the Sooner State, recreating on the Twenty-First Century map that striking division between Oklahoma and Indian Territories in days of yore.
Nothing is inevitable, but that result – emerging over the years ahead – looks more likely, with every state government decision to bolster the powerful tribes while ignoring the smaller tribes and the people as a whole.