In a joint statement last evening (Wednesday, April 22), leaders of two Oklahoma tribes affirmed their respect for statewide officials who have reached conflicting conclusions about recent compacts between the state and, respectively, the Otoe-Missouri Tribe and the Comanche Nation.
The two leaders said: “We respect the Governor and the Attorney General, who both have a track record of supporting tribal sovereignty. We believe the compact language is consistent with both positions as it says event wagering will be permitted only ‘to the extent such wagers are authorized by law.’ We remain focused on the momentum established with new gaming compacts that anticipate the future of the gaming market, expand opportunity for all parties for generations to come and leave behind the one-size-fits-all approach to the old Model Gaming compact.”
Continuing in their comments sent to CapitolBeatOK, The City Sentinel and other news organizations, John R. Shotton of the Otoe-Missouria and William Nelson, Sr. of the Comanche said: “In other words, so long as such wagering is unlawful, the Otoe-Missouria and Comanche Nation would not be permitted to engage in such gaming under the express language of the compacts. Although state law currently does not authorize event wagering, the compacts nonetheless included such language in anticipation that the state legislature will eventually see event wagering as an important source of revenue, and authorize the activity accordingly.
“There is absolutely nothing unlawful about entering into a compact that guides the parties’ behavior and expectations in contemplation of potential future events. In fact, the 2005 compacts also contained provisions that would authorize new forms of gaming in the event that such gaming would be ‘approved by state legislation for use by any person or entity.’ The event wagering provisions of the new compacts are fully consistent with the language of the 2005 compacts.”
The City Sentinel’s substantive analysis, based in part on analyses from the late 1990s, as to the issues presented in the new pair of gaming compacts, and in the recent statements of officials involved, concludes that the most recent release is designed to explain the language in the compact regarding “sports book.” While it is arguably true that human event wagering in the form of sports book, is not explicitly authorized at the current time, the pari-mutual and event contest statutes do authorize some event and human wagering, respectively.
Continuing with The City Sentinel’s analysis, the above should be considered against the backdrop that natives get the benefit of implied approvals in the law.
This is how Oklahoma tribes were allowed to offer tournament blackjack games when poker and card games were otherwise specifically outlawed. Further, approvals for event wagering in the language in the compact contemplates “to the extent authorized by law” meaning when all the proper approvals are in place.
About the Comanche Nation: The Comanche Nation is located in Southwest Oklahoma, with headquarters located right outside of Lawton. The tribe currently has approximately 17,000 enrolled tribal members with 7,000 residing in the tribal jurisdictional area around the Lawton, Ft. Sill, and surrounding counties. In the late 1600’s and early 1700’s the tribe migrated from their Shoshone kinsmen onto the northern Plains, ultimately relocating in Oklahoma. For more information about The Comanche Nation, visit https://www.comanchenation.com.
About The Otoe-Missouria Tribe: The Otoe-Missouria Tribe is located in North Central Oklahoma in Red Rock. There are currently 3,288 members enrolled in the tribe with 2,242 living in Oklahoma. The tribe was relocated to Oklahoma in 1881 from its first reservation on the border of Nebraska and Kansas. For more information about the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, visit https://www.omtribe.org/.