Casino money and politics

April 18, 2013

The Tulsa World has reported that since 2006, Oklahoma Indian tribes have contributed $5,800,000.00 to federal, state, city, county and judicial candidates in Oklahoma.

The Choctaws, Cherokees and Chickasaws make up 93 percent of these contributions, according to the report. The Choctaws lead the way with about $1,500,000.00 and the Cherokees with $1,000,000.00. If this is true, it is a sad commentary on how gambling is influencing government at all levels in Oklahoma. The state has 116 casinos plus a state lottery. The casinos sit on Indian lands and pay no property tax. The revenue figures from the gambling pact struck by former Gov. Brad Henry is policed by the tribes themselves.

Are these ever-expanding casinos making money?

You bet they are.

The Muscogee Creek Nation recently announced a $250,000,000.00 hotel expansion of its casino at 81st Street and Riverside Drive (one mile west of Oral Roberts University).

That expansion drew the praise of Mike Neal of the Tulsa Regional Chamber and Mayor Dewey Bartlett. Both men are happy about having more gambling in Tulsa. They call it “economic development.”

Tulsa is turning into a poor man’s Las Vegas but you won’t get that from the local media. Tulsa’s liberal daily newspaper, the four main TV stations and most radio stations get millions in ad revenue from gambling and they will not “kill the goose that laid the golden egg.” So, the casinos can count on support from lawmakers (only a handful like Rep. David Brumbaugh refuse their donations), judges, “news” reporters, Mayor Bartlett and the chamber of commerce.

Will Tulsa’s legacy focus on gambling? It appears that is the path that is being chosen.