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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