U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly recently granted motions to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Kialegee Tribal Town over the Class III gaming compacts they signed with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt. The lawsuit was brought in August 2020 by four other Oklahoma tribes: the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Citizen Band of Potawatomi. Kelly ruled the four plaintiff tribes did not have standing to challenge the compacts signed between Stitt and the Kialegee Tribal Town and UKB because those two tribes currently do not operate casinos.
The ruling, however, allows the portion of the lawsuit that challenges similar compacts signed by Stitt with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians.
The four plaintiff tribes claimed the compacts were illegal because they didn’t follow Oklahoma’s legal process for compacts. The Oklahoma Supreme Court supported those arguments in two separate rulings.
The four plaintiff tribes also sued the U.S. Department of the Interior which approved the compacts via “inaction,” meaning the compacts could take effect if the Secretary of the Interior took no action for 45 days.
Kelly wrote, “Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged standing to bring counts one through eight of their operative complaint insofar as those counts challenge the Comanche Nation’s compact and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe’s compact. But they have not plausibly alleged standing to bring counts one through eight of their operative complaint insofar as those counts challenge the United Keetoowah Band’s compact or the Kialegee Tribal Town’s compact.” The judge also dismissed claims the four tribes faced a “substantial risk” of future illegal competitive injury from the approval of the Kialegee Tribal Town and UKB compacts.
The new gaming compacts included several new provisions, in particular approval of sports betting for the Comanche and Otoe-Missouria tribes.