Oklahoma Governor, State Senator Promise Action On Sports Betting

Written By Derek Helling on February 9, 2023
kevin stitt oklahoma sports betting apps

Oklahoma sports betting legalization might not occur this year. But the state’s governor and at least one state senator want to absolve themselves of the blame should that occur. Both Oklahoma Sen. Bill Coleman and Gov. Kevin Stitt have promised to do what they can to support a change.

Ultimately, however, the success of their efforts lies not in the state capitol but boardrooms of the various tribal governing bodies that lie within Oklahoma. Their control over gambling in Oklahoma could stymie the introduction of legal sportsbooks.

Oklahoma sports betting engages Senate ally

Wednesday was a good day for proponents of the expansion of gambling in Oklahoma. According to Garrett Giles of KWON, Coleman announced that he will introduce a bill to act as a companion to HB 1027 in the Oklahoma Senate.

Oklahoma Rep. Ken Luttrell filed HB 1027 in the House of Representatives earlier this year. A Senate companion increases the chances that one of the two bills, which will start as identical in their language, could become law. A statement from Coleman explained his rationale.

“Oklahomans love their sports. We have the lottery, three horse tracks, and the most tribal casinos of any state. Sports betting through our tribal partners would simply provide another opportunity for our state’s sports fanatics to have some fun while creating thousands of new jobs and millions in revenue to further boost our economy.

With the popularity of sports betting exploding around the nation, I hope our legislative colleagues realize the tremendous fiscal impact this will have on our state and approve sports betting this session.”

Coleman added that he drives over the Kansas border to use legal sportsbooks in that state and regularly notices other cars with Oklahoma license plates there. He wasn’t alone in voicing support for legalization on Wednesday, either.

Stitt commits to pushing for change

Also on Wednesday, Stitt joined the voices calling for a regulated system for sports betting in Oklahoma. “I just want Oklahoma to know that I want to get this rolled out for them because I think Oklahomans want it,” Stitt said, according to News on 6.

“You know there’s a good chance it does [get taken up by the state legislature]. We’ve been studying it, talking to the [Oklahoma City] Thunder, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. I think we just haven’t taken it up to be honest with you, because there’s a difference of opinion on how to roll it out, but let’s get it done for Oklahomans.”

While Stitt didn’t commit to signing HB 1027 in its current form if it reaches his desk, his overall support for sports betting legalization acts as an implication of that circumstance. In the end, though, Stitt’s support could be a secondary consideration.

The support of tribal leaders inside Oklahoma is a primary element.

Will tribal casinos sign off on HB 1027?

News on 6 also quoted Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman Matthew Morgan as saying, “the tribes have to be the operator. There’s no getting around that.” Morgan did clarify that several of the tribal gaming authorities that belong to the association are interested in offering sports betting, though.

HB 1027 authorizes the state to enter into new gaming compacts with such tribal authorities to provide for sports betting. It also sets the terms of such agreements, however. For example, it would mandate that tribal casinos pay Oklahoma a graduated share of their revenues from sports bets.

  • 4% of the first $5 million in monthly net revenue; plus
  • 5% of the next $5 million of annual adjusted gross revenues; plus
  • 6% of the sum of adjusted gross revenues each year

Thus, tribal authorities would be on the hook for monthly payments of up to $200,000 under those terms. In addition, they would be responsible for annual payments of as much as $250,000 plus another 6% of whatever their adjusted gross revenue total from sports betting was for the year.

It’s unclear at this point whether any, much less a majority, of the dozens of tribal gaming authorities that operate casinos within Oklahoma, find those terms agreeable. Without their support, though, it could be nearly impossible to advance HB 1027 in Oklahoma City.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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