Court Won’t Reconsider Broken Arrow Ruling

In a blow to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied his request to reconsider its ruling overturning a district judge's May 2012 decision to halt construction at the Kialegee Tribal Town’s Broken Arrow casino. Pruitt claims the National Indian Gaming Commission declared the parcel was ineligible for gaming.

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver recently denied Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s petition to reconsider its ruling in the case of the Kialegee Tribal Town’s potential Red Clay Casino in Broken Arrow. A three-judge panel last month unanimously voted to overturn District Judge Gregory Frizzell’s May 2012 ruling that stopped construction at the casino site, located an hour and a half from the tribe’s Wetumka headquarters.

Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said the staff was considering its options. He emphasized that the National Indian Gaming Commission said in September 2013 that the 20-acre parcel was not eligible for gaming. The property is an original Creek allotment owned by sisters Marcella Giles and Wynema Capps who inherited it from their father. They became enrolled members of the Kialegee Tribal Town in May 2012 and hold dual citizenship with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The tribe has been leasing the land from them.

The tribe has not announced whether it will move forward with plans for a casino plans or open a sports bar or other business on the site.

Also in Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission will require several amendments to its regulations to implement the Gaming Commission Act that recently was amended. Chairwoman Stacy Leeds said, “As you all know, as soon as we hit the ground running in January we will require a series of amendments to our own regulations to implement the new ordinance, and our first order of business will be taking up changes to licensing.”

CN Attorney General Todd Hembree said, “If policies are changed they will go through the Administrative Procedures Act, and there is a publication period and a public comment period. These will not happen overnight. There are processes.”

In April, Tribal Councilors passed Legislative Act 07-14, limiting the CNGC’s regulatory powers over Cherokee Nation Entertainment operations. In June, the council made technical changes to that act with LA 17-14. Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed both acts, which became law after they were approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission approval in October.

Before the NIGC approved the amended act, the CNGC regulated all gaming operations to make sure they complied with the act plus any regulations adopted by the CNGC. The CNGC also enforces any gaming-related compacts with the state. The amendment calls for the CNGC to regulate and issue regulations only related to CNE’s gaming operations and follow only the NIGC’s minimum internal control standards. Before, the CNGC was required to establish tribal internal control standards.

Under the previous and revised act, the CNGC is part of the tribe’s executive branch that carries out the Nation’s responsibilities under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the NIGC’s regulations. The act states the CNGC shall be consistent with all laws and resolutions of the Tribal Council.

Hembree stated, “With any change there are questions. One thing I believe the intent of the amendments were was to ensure that CNB played on a level playing field with other gaming facilities and that the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission was able to maintain their very well oversight of the gaming operations and that they adhere to the strict federal standards that are there.”