Oklahoma may need to start working on its own sports betting legislature if it hopes to keep pace with neighboring states. But local tribal leaders want to make sure it isn’t done in a rush.
With the tribes gaming compact fight now in the rear-view mirror, and with nearby Louisiana approving sports betting in the November 3 elections, people are starting to talk about sports betting as the next way Oklahoma can fix its budget problems. But there’s no rush to get it done just yet. “There’s no clock ticking on when this needs to get done,” said Matthew Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association. “I guess it could come up next legislative session, but it may not.”
Morgan admitted that it could be a useful step in mending relationships between the state and the tribes
“The governor has been supportive of negotiating with Oklahoma’s tribes in good faith to expand opportunity for all parties and remains committed to working with all Oklahomans on top ten solutions that deliver a stronger, more prosperous future for our state,” Stitt spokeswoman Baylee Lakey wrote.
“I’ve consistently said that I think sports betting or wagering is a potential negotiating point for the state in its compact negotiations with the tribes,” Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said in a statement to the Tulsa World.
There’s some hope that Governor Stitt would readily agree to a sports betting deal. He authorized event wagering in new compacts that were later thrown out by the Supreme court. With Louisiana sports betting operations a year away from beginning, it’s just a question if the state and tribes can negotiate something that makes everybody happy before they fall behind the competition.
“It’s a matter of time,” Jay Finks, executive director of the Oklahoma Lottery said. “We have so much gaming here in the state already. It’s kind of logical … it’s the next step.”
Lumbee could get recognition this year
North Carolina’s Lumbee Tribe could get federal recognition this year. With politicians from both sides of the aisle supporting the measure, it all comes down to when they might get snuck into a bill. With recognition would come federal funding, and a clear path to their own casino.
“For it to come to fruition, it’ll be historic here,” said Kellie Blue, Robeson County manager and a Lumbee. “I can’t imagine the reaction from our tribe. I see it as a new beginning, a fresh start.”
The biggest opposition remains the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who have pointed to inconsistencies in the Lumbee story over the years as a reason for why they don’t deserve any recognition.
Taichi offers their help
The Taichi Group, operators of the Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Lemoore, California, have launched Palace Hospitality, an enterprise offering consulting, development and management services to Tribal Nations.
“Palace Hospitality was created out of years of successful development, management, and negotiations, and the desire to help other Tribal entities benefit from our first-hand experience,” said Michael Olujic, general manager of Tachi Palace Casino Resort and principal of Palace Hospitality. “We have a working business model that creates revenue, builds positive community relationships, and a management philosophy that is effective and respected. We are looking forward to helping other entities whether it’s build from the ground up or refresh their internal and external relations.”
California casinos getting facelifts
Several California tribal casinos are adding space, renovating and offering new things.
The Jamul Casino has a new 10,000-square-foot open air rooftop venue. It’s capacity is currently capped at 50% but can be booked for corporate parties and celebrations.
The Pala Casino Spa Resort has opened a non-smoking Asian Gaming room, with a focus on table games.
The Sycuan Casino Resort has the new Bull and Bourbon steakhouse, and the Harrah’s Resort Southern California has a new Che Bello Italian restaurant.
Mohegan Sun helps with Covid-19 testing
The Mohegan Sun Casino will test adults and accompanies children for Covid-19. They will also be launching a health center in spring, 2021.
Covid-19 openings and closings
Ute Mountain Casino Hotel in Towaoc, Colorado temporarily closed its doors on December 7. The Casino del Sol family of casino resorts in Arizona have also closed, and hope to reopen on January 2, 2021.
Obeying California stay-at-home orders, the Chumash Casino Resort Hotel has also closed its doors.
The BlueWater Resort & Casino in Arizona has reopened its hotel on a limited basis. The gaming floor opened in early November with limits of three people per table.
The Wanaaha Casino is open, despite California stay-at-home orders. Deemed an essential service by the Bishop Paiute Tribe, the casino is following strict safety precautions. Also open in Southern California are the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ casino in Rancho Mirage, Morongo Casino Resort and Spa, San Manuel Casino in Highland and Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio.
In Minnesota, the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino also remain open, including restaurants and bars on a limited basis. Governor Tim Walz had ordered restaurants closed in November, but the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s Gaming Enterprise feels they have the right safety precautions in place to stay open.