OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has withdrawn as the state’s lead negotiator with tribal nations on gambling compacts, leaving the state’s new Republican governor to move forward with his own legal team.
In a brief letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday, Hunter said he was withdrawing from further participation in the negotiations.
Stitt and the tribes are locked in an impasse over whether the 15-year agreements that give the tribes the exclusive rights to operate casinos expire on Jan. 1. Stitt says the compacts expire, and he wants to renegotiate for a larger slice of casino revenue.
Some tribal leaders have suggested they’re willing to renegotiate the fees they pay, but first want Stitt to acknowledge the compacts automatically renew.
The tribes paid the state about $139 million in fees last year.
The chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association said in a statement he was disappointed in Hunter’s decision.
“As we have stated from the beginning, the tribes are willing partners, and have appreciated Attorney General Hunter’s work with tribes on a variety of issues in the past,” Chairman Matthew Morgan said in a statement.
Stitt planned to hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss compact negotiations.