Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: January 5, 2017
Sen. Bryce Marlatt
Senator says gaming compacts need reevaluation
in wake of proposed federal action on Panhandle casino
Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, reiterated his opposition to
a planned tribal casino near Guymon, saying it’s time to reevaluate
the framework of casino gambling in Oklahoma if the federal government
is going to allow tribal gaming in areas of the state with no historical
The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is considering placing
land near Guymon purchased by the Shawnee Tribe into trust, thereby
allowing the tribe to build a casino. The Shawnee Tribe has no historical
ties to the Panhandle or its unassigned lands. The proposed site
of the planned Panhandle casino is roughly 400 miles from the tribe’s
headquarters in Ottawa County.
“This would be a terrible precedent by the federal government
to allow tribal gambling in lands where tribes have no historical
ties,” Marlatt said. “This could open a floodgate of
casinos and other tribal ventures on almost every corner in Oklahoma.
This move is also concerning to citizens in the Panhandle because
of the societal ills associated with the proliferation of gambling.
If this move is allowed by the federal government, then it’s
time we seriously examine if it is in the best interest of the state
to grant exclusivity to tribal governments to open and operate casinos
Marlatt says his next step if the casino is approved by the BIA
would be to examine what it would take for Oklahoma to become more
open to casino-style gaming facilities beyond those currently operated
by the tribes.
“The reality is this project’s approval is as much
about expanding tribal sovereignty as it is about the expansion
of gambling. If the Obama administration, in its last few days in
power, grants a tribe the right to exercise sovereignty 400 miles
away from anywhere they have any historical tie, then compacts negotiated
with the understanding that casinos would only be allowed on tribal
lands may no longer be the most benefit to our state and to our
schools. The Shawnee Tribe has no more connection to Texas County
than do any of the multinational corporations that operate the premier
Las Vegas resorts and hotels. If we are going to expand gambling
anywhere in the state, perhaps we should look at who the best operators
of such facilities really are and whether they would agree to terms
that would provide the state more revenue for critical needs like
teacher pay,” Marlatt said.
The cities of Dallas, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Neb.; Shreveport,
La.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Springfield, Ill., are all closer to the
Shawnee Tribe’s holdings in Ottawa County than Guymon. Seventy-five
of Oklahoma’s 77 counties are closer to the Shawnee Tribe’s
holdings in Ottawa County than Texas County.
The BIA Southern Plains Regional Office is holding a public hearing
regarding the Shawnee Tribe Casino Fee-to-Trust acquisition and
environmental assessment at 6 p.m., Thursday, January 5, at the
Texas County Activities Building in Guymon.
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