OPINION: Renewed gaming compacts ensure brighter future for state

BY CHUCK HOSKIN JR
Principal Chief
08/10/2020 11:30 AM
Recently the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma affirmed what Oklahoma tribal nations have known from the beginning – on Jan. 1 our gaming compacts with the state of Oklahoma automatically renewed for another 15 years. I am pleased with this conclusion and what it means for the future of the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses. In my many years of service to the CN, I have seen how powerful it is when our tribal government and the state of Oklahoma maintain a positive and mutually respectful partnership. 

Fifteen years ago, that collaboration was established in a fair gaming compact. The compact has exceeded all expectations, and we look forward to continuing it for another 15 years. CNB’s world-class gaming and entertainment endeavors, coupled with the CN’s rich history and culture, annually bring hundreds of thousands of tourists to northeast Oklahoma from across the world. 

In 2018 alone, our gaming operations sent more than $31 million to the state. Most of these gaming fees were earmarked specifically for education. However, our impact goes far beyond the dollars associated with our gaming compact. Our economic impact on the state – almost $2.2 billion annually – is rooted in our commitment to invest in Oklahoma communities, big and small. The CN and CNB remain steadfast in our commitment to growing the local economy, both for our CN citizens and our non-Cherokee neighbors. 

We proudly reinvest our profits in services and facilities that make northeast Oklahoma a great place to live and raise a family. We have forged numerous partnerships to bring quality jobs, services and health care to the region. Together, the CN and CNB provide direct employment to more than 9,600 people and support thousands of additional jobs through our partnerships and economic development projects. We provide millions to northeast Oklahoma public schools each year and bolster our region’s health care, roads and communities. 

I’d like to thank our talented workforce for its commitment during these challenging times. Their hard work and dedication have turned our ability to operate gaming businesses into tremendous benefits for our citizens and the people of Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s legal dispute with tribes over the compact came at a steep cost to Oklahoma taxpayers and an even steeper cost to the invaluable relationship between tribal governments and state government. But, it is incumbent upon all leaders, state and tribal, to move past the dispute and work together to ensure that the best days for Oklahoma, and tribes, are ahead of us. 

Tribal contributions to this state are strong, and with renewal of our gaming confirmed, they will stay that way. As I have said before, we are all in this together. Together, we make our communities and our families stronger. Together, we have accomplished so much in the past 15 years, and I am excited to see what the next 15 will bring.

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