Casino floor (copy)

Casino gaming continued to operate as usual at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino inside the River Spirit Casino Resort on Wednesday. Gov. Kevin Still has said tribal gaming compacts, which set exclusivity fees on Class III gaming, expired at midnight Tuesday night. STETSON PAYNE/Tulsa World

Oklahoma tribes are willing to pay Arkansas 20% in exclusivity fees to operate a casino there because, I presume, they know they can make money doing so.

The tribes say that doesn't relate to Oklahoma but I would disagree (“Tribal leader says comparing Oklahoma casinos to Arkansas is ‘apples to bananas,’” Jan. 15).

Using the most recent data I could find, in 2016, total tribal gaming revenues in Oklahoma were $4.36 billion, as reported by Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry report written by economist Alan Meister.

In that year, tribes paid the state $132 million in exclusivity fees. That is only 3%.

It is so low because the tribes pay nothing on Class II (bingo) gaming machines, which is a huge windfall for the tribes. If the tribes had paid Oklahoma, say 15%, in 2016, the total fees to the state would have been an eye popping $654 million, or half a billion more than they actually paid that year.

It is true the tribes pay significant dollars into their local communities. But do they pay half a billion dollars? I'll let you decide if the tribes have a sweet deal or not.

Jerry Moeller, Stillwater

Editor’s Note: Tribes do not pay fees for class II gaming because the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act left class II regulatory authority to the tribes. The act was passed as a gaming framework in response to the 1987 Supreme Court ruling that confirmed tribal authority to establish gaming operations independent of state regulation. The act requires state-tribal compacts for class III gaming.

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