The effort to bring legal sports betting to Oklahoma took an important step forward. The House committee in the state has passed a bill that would legalize retail sportsbooks at in-state land-based casinos.
The next step in the process is a review of the measure by the entire state House. The committee vote was tight with six members in favor and four against. Most parties involved in the process now expect a heated debate on the issue in the full house.Jump to
Oklahoma House Bill 3008
HB 3008 is the legislation behind this effort. Passage of this bill would pave the for legal sports betting in existing tribal casino gaming venues. It does not include any relevant language to address legal online sports betting in Oklahoma.
If state lawmakers cannot come to terms with an acceptable piece of legislation, an amended compact is another way to go. Other states such as Wisconsin have tabled their legislative efforts in favor of this approach.
Through direct negotiations between a state’s governor and tribal leaders, gaming compacts have been successfully amended to include legal sports betting. Unfortunately, due to past battles, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is not on the best terms with Oklahoma gaming tribes.
This leaves quite a few balls up in the air in the Sooner State. While support for legalized sports betting has gained momentum, there are still enough lawmakers willing to put up a fight.
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Gov. Stitt’s previous issues with the existing gaming compacts has made him reluctant to start any new negotiations with the gaming tribes.
Going back to when he was first elected, his attempt to invalidate the current gaming compacts has been met with strong resistance. The trust factor between the parties involved has been severely eroded over the past few years.
House Bill 3008 is sponsored by House Rep. Ken Luttrell, who is a Republican. He believes that legal retail sportsbooks can provide a much-needed economic boost to both the state and the tribes. His long-term objectives include the addition of legal online betting through mobile sportsbook apps.
Under the terms of his bill, the state would receive 10% of the revenue. This figure was set through various meetings with tribal leaders. Rep. Luttrell also believes that the timing is right to move forward in the legalization process.
The biggest hurdle is gaining widespread support for HB 3008 among the rest of the state House and state Senate. Added revenue that is being lost elsewhere at the present time appears to be the driving force.
Tribal Response to HB 3008
Matthew Morgan is a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association. He stated that:
“Our members are very interested in the subject, they engage quite regularly within their own communities and their local representatives and state senators. Everybody is unique when it comes to their markets and what they would like to see.”
Reading between the lines, not every in-state gaming tribe appears to be on board with the current proposal. There could be some leftover animosity given their dealings with the governor in the past.