Oklahoma’s attorney general has agreed to pay a Michigan law firm around $250,000 to help represent the state in discussions with Oklahoma-based Native American tribes over compacts that allow gambling.
Republican Mike Hunter’s office signed the agreement last week with the federal law firm Dykema Gossett. A Hunter spokesman said Friday the outside lawyers were necessary due to their expertise in tribal negotiations.
“When dealing with issues as complex as compact negotiations, it is important to have experts with experience in this area,” stated Hunter spokesman Alex Gerszewski. “Dykema has a proven record of success in tribal compact and gaming negotiations. We believe with their help, we can achieve a successful outcome for both the state and our tribal partners.”
Discussions between the state and the tribes got off to a rocky start this summer when fresh Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said he wanted to renegotiate the deals, implying the state should find a bigger share of gaming revenue.
Tribal leaders have indicated they’re open to renegotiating a few of the terms, however, the two sides disagree over whether the present compacts automatically renew on Jan. 1.
Oklahoma’s present gaming compacts call for the tribes to pay the country between 4 percent and 10percent of a casino’s net earnings in “exclusivity fees.” Those fees generated almost $139 million in payments to the country this past year on approximately $2.3 billion in revenue from games covered under the compacts. Non-tribal industrial operators are banned under the compacts from allowing gaming in Oklahoma, although a certain number of electronic gaming machines are permitted at horse racetracks.
The Oklahoman newspaper first reported on the state’s contract with Dykema.