Oklahoma Makes Headway in Fight For Sports Betting
What’s in Store For Oklahoma
Oklahoma is one of the several states left in the U.S. that has yet to legalize sports betting amidst this era of sports betting legalization that the U.S. has seen since the Supreme Court decision to overturn the federal ban in 2018.
While there are still several obstacles standing between the state and legalized sports betting, headway was made Monday when a House committee voted 6-4 to advance the legislation.
The bill, House Bill 3008 would allow sports betting at tribal casinos in the state “provided the tribe operating the casino executes a supplement to their gaming compact modeled in the legislation.” As written, the bill would also allow tribes and their casinos to opt-in to the in-person sports betting market; it would not legalize online sports betting in the state.
The four opposers to the bill want to see more meaningful negotiations between the state and the tribes regarding just how each would benefit from this additional type of gambling in the state. This negotiation may be harder said than done though, as the state and their respective tribes have a somewhat strenuous relationship especially following Gov. Kevin Stitt’s previous attempt to discard the state’s tribal gaming compacts all together.
A member of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, which represents the state’s tribes and acts as a liaison between the tribes and the state, said that tribes are “very interested,” but do have apprehensions about taking the majority of the risk associated with opening the activity in their casino.
Rep. Ken Luttrell Leads Charge
Nonetheless, the catalyst behind this bill, Rep. Ken Luttrell said that he is more than willing to sit down with the tribes to discuss the specifics and would just be happy to spur meaningful conversation on the subject.
Central to Luttrell’s argument for legalization are the job opportunities it would create for the state as well as the foreseen financial benefits for the state and the tribes. Currently Oklahomans can travel to neighboring states like Colorado, New Mexico, and Arkansas and place wagers on sporting events there, effectively contributing to those states’ economy. Other interested bettors of Oklahoma bypass crossing state lines and just place bets illegally in Oklahoma, which the state also receives no financial benefits from.
Legalizing the activity would give both the state and the 33 tribes that govern the 143 gaming facilities across the state a percentage of the amount wagered. The states would receive roughly 10% of the handle (total amount wagered). Luttrell estimates that would lead to $200 to $240 million in revenue for the state that neighboring states have likely been taking from Oklahoma since legalizing the activity within their borders.
Oklahoma would join over thirty other states (and Washington D.C.) in legalizing sports betting should House Bill 3008 find more proponents and pass legislation. This would allow sports fans to bet on their favorite Oklahoma sports teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma City Energy FC, and the University of Oklahoma Sooners.