All Oklahomans Benefit from Tribal Gaming

In Oklahoma, of the 38 federally recognized tribes, 33 operate governmental gaming operations   in accordance with the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). That framework requires that any revenues from gaming operations be used for five core purposes: funding tribal operations, providing for the general welfare of the tribe and its members or citizens, promoting tribal economic development, donating to charitable organizations, and helping to fund operations of local government agencies. The amount of good Oklahoma’s tribes have done – and continue to do – has changed our state, improving the lives of all Oklahomans.

Job Creation in the State of Oklahoma

Rural and city-dwelling Oklahomans, tribal and non-tribal, benefit from job creation. Tribal nations have put more than 113,000 Oklahomans to work, in good-paying positions in industries and initiatives made possible by revenues generated by gaming. Of course, the gaming industry itself employs many thousands of people, but so do tourism, transportation, healthcare, technology, government services and more. The benefits go far beyond jobs. As former Anadarko Mayor Klye Eastwood puts it, “it’s the only way that we grow rural Oklahoma.”

An area of tribal impact that may not immediately come to mind, though its importance cannot be overstated, is emergency and disaster response. A recent example is the April 27 tornado outbreak that destroyed swaths of Sulphur and Marietta, Oklahoma, along with other areas. Immediately, Chickasaw Nation Light Horse Police, along with emergency management responders from the tribe were on-site, working in search and rescue, assessing damage, helping route traffic safely and offering food and medical care to everyone in the community who needed it. Today, tribes are still on the ground in hard-hit areas, helping affected communities rebuild and recover.

Tribes’ Role in National Security

National security and government programs are another big area of impact for tribes, both individually and in the national defense industry. First Americans are often the most represented ethnicity in any branch of the military. We have a storied history of proud service, from the Choctaw-Chickasaw Code Talkers in WWI to the 42,000 First Americans who served in Vietnam. It follows that tribes, especially in Oklahoma, now play an integral role in our national security. They support our military not only on the frontlines, but also in terms of goods, services and programs developed to keep our nations, and the nation, safe.

From testing and developing drone operation programs to building communications systems to manufacturing tactical trailers, tribes play a critical role in maintaining readiness for our country’s armed forces. They also contribute to operational support of the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Missile Defense Agency, among others, to provide goods and services essential to national security.

Local and Community Support

Closer to home, community support from tribes keeps Oklahoma’s nonprofits thriving. All Oklahomans benefit from tribal philanthropy. Our state’s nonprofits have received more than $61 million in support from tribal donations and sponsorships. Whether a nonprofit is focused on arts and culture, education and scholarships, food insecurity, medical technology, programs for preschoolers or the elderly, tribes are making our state better, and our people safer, healthier and happier.

The tribal nations that call Oklahoma home are here forever. We are active and willing partners throughout the entire state, in any areas we can make a positive impact, and that will never change.