The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes settled an ongoing dispute Friday with Oklahoma by agreeing to take down an Internet gaming site after being told its tribal gaming compact with the state did not allow it, the governor's office said.
The tribe, based in Concho, had been operating the Internet gaming site for the past several months. Tribal officials thought Internet gaming was allowed under the tribe's compact with the state; Oklahoma officials believed otherwise.
Gov. Mary Fallin's general counsel, Steve Mullins, said talks culminated with an agreement being reached Friday that the tribe's gaming compact with the state does not allow it to operate Internet gaming sites in Oklahoma or anywhere in the U.S.
“It was a misunderstanding,” he said. “They came to the table, and they worked with us until we could get it resolved. They've been good partners on that.”
The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, which operates the Lucky Star Casino at Concho and at Clinton, would be allowed to operate an Internet gaming site from outside the United States, but the tribe still would have to pay fees to Oklahoma, Mullins said.
Lisa Liebl, spokeswoman for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, said the agreement effectively shuts down the tribe's free online social gaming network in exchange for an agreement that the tribe be allowed to operate the site internationally.
“The Tribes plan to bring this exciting new product to the international market in the very near future,” Liebl said in a statement.
The interpretation applies to the other tribes that have tribal gaming compacts with Oklahoma, he said.
“Internet gaming is improper in Oklahoma,” Mullins said. “We basically are saying we will not expand gaming in Oklahoma on the Internet.”
The Internet gaming site used by the tribes was taken down Friday.
Mullins said the governor's office, which is responsible for enforcing gaming compacts, was notified shortly after the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes launched their gaming site and began talks with tribal officials.
“We don't want this area to be ambiguous,” he said. “We want it to be very clear that Oklahoma is saying you may not Internet game in Oklahoma.”
Mullins said the state would have had to start enforcement action against the tribe if tribal officials refused to take down the Internet gaming site.
The state didn't seek fines for the time the site was operating because tribal officials didn't believe they were violating the compact.
“We're not trying to fight,” he said. “We're trying to resolve.”
Oklahoma and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes also Friday signed a new tobacco compact, in which the tribe will charge the full $1.03 state tax on cigarettes and the state will give back 50 percent of it, Mullins said. The existing compact expires June 30.
The tribe and the state signed a burn ban compact as well, in which the tribe agrees to issue a burn ban covering its lands whenever the state issues one.
We want it to be very clear that Oklahoma is saying you may not Internet game in Oklahoma.”
Gov. Mary Fallin's general counsel