New group starts ad campaign challenging how much casinos are giving back to the state

New group starts ad campaign challenging how much casinos are giving back to the state

The casino industry in Oklahoma is one of the biggest in the state.

So large, Gov. Kevin Stitt wants a bigger piece of the cash pie.

Now a new ad is out in favor of the state's position.

“Oklahoma casinos share just 1/4 of what the surrounding state casino's share. That's not fair,” said the ad from a group called "Oklahomans for Fairness."

The Oklahoma Indian Gaming association (OIGA) said the ad is misleading because it doesn't show the difference between the exclusive fees the tribes pay, and commercial rates paid in other states.

Though the decision on the gaming compact will be decided in federal court, political analyst Tim Gilpin says these ads change things going forward.

“We've now entered a whole new dimension to this argument,” he said. “Before it's more of a legal argument. What did the compact say or not say and let the courts decide.”

The new organization said it isn't being paid by the governor or related to any other state powers.

President Jonathan Small is part of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, but said this new group is unrelated.

“What we're focused on is the casino industry, which is the third largest in the country and it's number one in the number of machines,” he said.

Gilpin said this legal battle is now becoming more of a fight for public opinion, with ads playing for both the tribes and this mystery group.

“We know that the tribes have been up on TV, they always are,” Gilpin said. “This new group, we don't know who's funding them. It must be some sort of a pact organization possibly and they're not releasing the names that I’m aware of.”

Oklahomans for Fairness said it won't be releasing its list of donors supporting the message, which aligns with the state’s position.

This adds to the question of who is funding these advertisements popping up.

In a statement, the OIGA said, “Tribal investments in education, roads, and healthcare make Oklahoma a better and stronger state for all citizens. And let’s be clear, tribal leaders have said all along they are willing to discuss rates once the court has addressed automatic renewal.”

https://ktul.com/news/local/new-group-starts-ad-campaign-challenging-what-casinos-are-giving-back-to-the-state