Representative Ken Luttrell submitted HB 3008 in early January to legalize sports betting in Oklahoma, but people are suspecting that it won’t gain any traction even with the heavy number of representatives voting for it to be legalized.
The House Appropriations and Budget Committee approved Rep. Ken Luttrell’s bill to add in-person sports betting to the state-tribal gaming agreement in a 28-3 vote on Thursday. The problem now is that the law must be adopted on the House and Senate floors and be reviewed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt for his approval. Stitt hasn’t said much about whether he intends to legalize sports betting in the state, although the small amount that he has said has been positive.
Oklahoma Sportsbetting Almost Legalized In 2020
When reports surfaced in 2020 that a sports betting option would be accessible at these tribal casinos, legislators and the court ruled that the governor lacked the authority to enact new legislation on the matter, which led to the bill being denied.
In 2020, Oklahoma came close to reaching an agreement to allow sports betting in a few tribal casinos. As part of a larger struggle between gaming interests and the state government, the parties agreed to a compromise, which was later nullified.
If the bill is passed by the May 27th deadline, it will add sports betting to the list of games available in Oklahoma’s tribal casinos.
Oklahoma Rep. Wants Sportsbetting Legalized
It’s still unclear why Oklahoma will not legalize sports betting. Many people believe the state will make between $250-and $300 million in revenue. However, Representative Luttrell is determined to make it work. Luttrell recently stated the following in a statement: “I have had conversations with our gaming tribes during the interim to gauge their interest in this topic,” Luttrell said. “I feel the time is right for Oklahoma to partner with the tribes and ensure a level, competitive gaming playing field with the surrounding states.”
ICYMI: Sports-betting bill appears doomed this year in Oklahoma, lawmaker says. https://t.co/0vN36ulhxX via @gambling_com
— Larry Henry (@NEWSLarryHenry) March 28, 2022
In terms of revenue, Lutrell had words that would make it seem as if Oklahoma would try its hardest to get a deal done. “Illegal sports betting occurs throughout Oklahoma, and figures I obtained from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) show 11 offenses recently with tens of thousands of dollars seized,” Luttrell added. “This reflects only a fraction of what actually occurs in our state. The Oxford Economics Group estimates that legal sports betting would generate $240 million in revenue for Oklahoma and create over 3000 direct and indirect jobs. This legislation just makes sense.”
In order for sports betting to become legal in Oklahoma, they would need a few tribal nations to operate it, in addition to the legal concerns. In the state, there are over 35 tribal nations that manage over 130 gaming facilities that include traditional casino games like poker, blackjack, slots, and other activities.
Given the type of revenue that sports betting would provide to the Oklahoma tribes, there would be no reason for them to refuse to allow it in their casinos. In 2021, Americans wagered more than $50 billion. That number is only expected to rise as more states legalize sports betting in 2022, leading to tribals being excited about the future of their own revenue.
How Sports Betting Helps Oklahoma
Not only do sports betting allow tribals to earn solely from residents of the state of Oklahoma, but it also allows visitors to Oklahoma to visit their casino and gamble on their favorite game of the night when on vacation. When all of these things that would bring the state money are taken into account, it would be ideal for Oklahoma to straighten out the legal concerns and reach an agreement.
The state would take around 10% of the monthly net revenue if tribals opened a sportsbook in their casinos. Given that the tribal casinos will still receive at least 90% of the proceeds, there’s a little possibility they’ll ever say no to sports betting in their jurisdiction—both the tribals and the state benefit from this arrangement.
What’s Next For Sports Betting?
It appears that the only way residents will be allowed to place wagers on sports events will be through offshore sites. Although it is uncertain whether or not this bill will be officially rejected before the legislative session concludes on May 27th, things aren’t looking good for Oklahoma consumers who want to wager on sports.
Oklahoma bettors are still finding ways to wager at those offline sportsbooks, as many in the state use sportsbooks in neighboring states such as Arkansas and other locations.
With all of the information gathered thus far, it is difficult to predict if sports betting will become legal in the state soon. The vote to legalize it is a start in the right direction, but it still needs to go through a number of procedures before it can be implemented. If sports betting is approved, it may happen within the next few years, or it could be prohibited again, leaving bettors without a way to place wagers in the state.
The obvious question is whether legislators and the courts will allow the governor to make new laws. The majority of members of the House of Representatives and legislators appear to be in favor of passing this bill.
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