Cherokee Nation Business Attorney Warns Racing Commission Of Violating Own Rules

Cherokee Nation

Dustin McDaniel, a Cherokee Nation Business lawyer, who was applying for a casino license in Pope County, warned the Racing Commission against violating its own rules by evaluating gambling applications without making a review panel fit for the job. The lawyer said the Commission is doomed to repeat the process if the plan continues.

The racing Commission conducted a video conference today with the Cherokees of Oklahoma and the Gulfside Casino Partnerships of Mississippi to access a license. The meeting included the evaluation of the applicants on the agenda.

Scott Hardin, the Commission’s spokesman, announced on Wednesday that the commissioners sent emails to the applicants. The spokesman mentioned that the two applicants were given time to review their proposals before the video meeting.

Commission continued the evaluations

Mr. Hardin said the Commissioners completed the score sheets during the meeting. Applicant’s scores will be based on the two company’s portfolios upon application and their responses during the interview. The Commissioners will compile the scores to determine the overall points of the applicants.

The lawyer’s argument was based on the Commission’s Rule 2.13.9(d), which stated that the evaluation of the applicants and the awarding of points in each criterion needed to undergo an assessment from a review panel composed of the Commission members.

The applicant’s scores will be totaled and ranked from the highest to the lowest in the rule. The Commission is tasked to notify the applicants, through writing, of the result of the assessment. The lawyer’s letter said everyone is ready to end the process. He added that it would be troublesome to repeat the process if some rules are violated. The lawyers urged the AG’s Office to review the scoring process before the meeting carefully.

Bid for the license soon to end

The two companies were the last to compete for the license to operate in the state. Five original applicants failed to meet requirements, placing the last two at the winning competition. The Commission required the applicants an endorsement from officials in the office during the application.

In December 2018, Gulfside filed a case against the Commission, arguing that they have had endorsements from local officials, but they later left office. Tim Fox, Judge at Pulaski County Circuit, found the rule unconstitutional.

Mr. McDaniel argued that the gaming rules are certain that no one is authorized to tally the commissioners’ scorecards.

Members of the Commission divided the point values into four criteria, including experience in gambling, opening timeline, financial stability and availability of financial resources, and their summary of the proposed casino. All criteria are given 30 points except for the timeline at 10 points.

Mr. Hardin assured that the members of the review panel would only include commission members. He added that the commissioners would individually provide points that will be collected later at the meeting’s closure.

Regardless of the winner, it is expected that the new casino will attract more local and foreign tourists to the state. The new casino will soon provide additional revenue for the states in the form of taxes.

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