OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Multiple issues must be addressed in the mediation process a judge has advanced as a means to settle the need for new tribal gaming compacts in Oklahoma.
The Big Tribes have asserted a willingness to pay higher class 3 gaming rates; but smaller tribes need some way to recover ground lost as a result of unfair monopoly practices resulting from favoritism granted repeatedly to the larger tribes by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The harm done to little tribes by the abuses that flourished for the benefit of larger tribes has to be a concern, because facilities exist that were not placed into trust for gaming, but where gaming operations have unfolded.
Locations put into trust after October 17, 1988 are especially suspect.
Equity requires their status be dealt with forthrightly.
We have written previously about the sweetheart deals given to out-of-state vendors for years, costing tribal members resources that should have been used for tribal needs. The capping of vendor rates should be tied to the definition of sole proprietary interest found in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). This could also address problem arising from Class 2 rates being charged by out-of-state vendors.
The above sketches practical issues that mediation must address.
To sum up, ideally mediation could address several things, but must at a minimum address these:
1. The smaller tribes need to be left at essentially the same rates to make up for future market concerns.
2. The vendors fees need to be capped according to requirements of the Indian gaming law.
3. Past abuses to smaller tribes markets need to be accounted for, documented and a process for resolution implemented.
4. Suspect locations need to be reconciled so that they are compliant with federal law.
Note: This editorial appears in the March 2020 print edition of The City Sentinel newspaper.