Could Oklahoma Be Next To Legalize Sports Betting?

The state of Oklahoma is a curious case when it comes to sports betting legalization in the United States. It’s one of 12 states in the U.S. without legalization — but really, it shouldn’t be.

That’s because casino gambling IS legal in the state. It’s run through local tribals, who have exclusive rights to operate gambling facilities of that kind.

Not only that, but it seems like all the key figures in Oklahoma want legal sports betting. From the governor to other key lawmakers to the tribes, heck, to the residents — they’ve all expressed interest in getting sports betting up and running. Yet nothing has happened, which makes this all so curious.

To make sense of what’s happened and what could happen, keep reading. Here’s the latest info we have:

Bills Stall Out In The Senate

The Oklahoma legislative session concluded May 31. With that, any bills that failed to advance get tabled until next year. Welp, two such bills that failed revolved around sports betting. One bill, HB1027, was championed by Rep. Ken Luttrell and Sen. Bill Coleman. That one never made it past the Senate Rules Committee.

There was also SB1434. Now this one is what got Oklahoma sports betters riled up because it was backed by the governor Kevin Stitt. However, even the governor isn’t powerful enough to get a bill passed if the key stakeholders aren’t on board, as well.

We’ll get to the disputes first, but let’s first talk about what Stitt wanted in the first place. Here are the main details of his proposed plan:

  • Retail sports betting to be offered exclusively at tribal casinos and gaming establishments across the state
  • Mobile sports betting offered at tribals casinos AND commercial operators (e.g. DraftKings and FanDuel)
  • Retail betting to be taxed at a 15% rate, while online sportsbooks getting a 20% rate, along with a $100,000 annual licensing fee for market access

Great plan, right? Wrong — if you’re a tribal casino at least. See, the tribes are the big hold-up in this, and perhaps they should be as we’re about to explain.

Tribal Casinos Sue For Exclusive Rights

Remember how we said tribal casinos have the exclusive right to license betting inside the state? Well, they do. It’s all part of a compact approved by voters in a 2004 ballot referendum.

Stitt’s plan to bring in commercial operators would violate that monopoly. So yes, the tribes weren’t happy about Stitt’s plan. You might be wondering, “why would Stitt even think of violating that agreement?”

Turns out, governor Stitt thought it expired after 15 years. This led him to negotiating a brand-new compact, and even agreeing with four tribes. Thisresulted in a lawsuit from the tribes of the previous compact. All hell broke loose from there, but in the end, the old tribes won out. A state district court ruled in the tribe’s favor saying the agreement auto-renewed after 15 years, not ended like Stitt thought.

Safe to say this lawsuit created tension between Stitt and the tribes, who again, have a monopoly on betting inside the state. In fact, Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman Matthew Morgan recently said the tensions between the two parties “took up a lot of oxygen in the room” which might explain the Senate holdups we covered.

Moreover, there’s existing tension in the state regarding native land — and it goes further than legalized betting. In 2020, there was a landmark Supreme Court case, Sharp v. Murphy. The fight was over what is tribal land and what is private land. We’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details, but the sports again ruled in favor of the reservations. With it, three million acres of land were given back to the Muscogee Creek Nation, meaning that tribal land now accounts for 40% of Oklahoma.

Will Oklahoma’s Issues Ever Be Resolved?

Put simply, unless the Oklahoma government and native tribes start seeing eye to eye again, we doubt anything changes inside the state regarding sports betting. Nothing is going to get passed without more friendly relations between the two parties.

Stitt still has two years remaining as governor. Perhaps the tribes wait it out until 2026 for another governor to be inserted and hopefully, this governor doesn’t insist on bringing third parties into the picture, only then perhaps the native tribes will get back on board. Ultimately, they just want to maintain their monopoly on the industry. And who can blame them? Hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line here.

Then again, they say “time heals all wounds.” The lawsuit and Stitt proposal is just too recent. Who’s to say some of the tension will boil over in 2025 when the new legislative session begins? We’re sure in-state bettors are hoping for this outcome.

Either way, Oklahoma bettors don’t need hope to bet inside the border. They can use an offshore betting site to circumvent all this drama and wager online worry-free. Because they are offshore, the same rules don’t apply to them.

Below we’ve listed our favorite offshore sportsbooks for Oklahoma. Any one of these five will get the job done for in-state sports wagering:

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Eric Uribe

Eric was born and raised in Nevada — the center of gambling in the United States. Throw in his natural interest in sports, and Eric was destined to be a sports bettor. This came to a head once Eric turned 21. Already a working sports journalist while in college, Eric began betting at his local sportsbook. Despite massive losses (at first), Eric continued to chip away at wagering. Eventually, he got half-decent at it. Now Eric is a trusted betting analyst. Not only is he skilled at making picks, but also breaking down the state of the industry — legalization, revenue, and innovation. You can read Eric's writings exclusively on OSB.