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Oklahoma Lawmaker: Sports Betting Bill Must Be “Win-Win” for Tribes, State

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated February 10, 2023
8 min read
  • OK Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat Approaching Sports Betting in “Methodical Manner”

  • Legal Sports Betting in OK Depends on Existing Compacts with State’s 39 Native Tribes

  • Lawmakers “Open to Exploring” Legal Sports Betting During Upcoming Session

OK Lawmaker Sports Betting Bill

OK Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat Approaching Sports Betting in “Methodical Manner”

The good news for Oklahoma gamblers is that Gov. Kevin Stitt has made it clear he wants to legalize sports betting there despite getting pushback from other state lawmakers like Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, according to reporter Reese Gorman of McAlester News-Capital (MNC).

Sen. Teat is a key player in that state’s journey towards legal sports gambling since he has the power to decide what bills will get heard in the Senate, and according to MNC Teat has “zero desire” to support a bill to solely legalize sports betting this session, saying in a recent interview:

“Like everything, I want to approach it in a methodical manner, but my position has not changed: I’m not interested in moving [sports betting] by itself … I think it needs to be handled in a way that’s respectful of our tribal nations, it needs to be above board, and something that is a win-win for the state of Oklahoma and our 39 tribes.”

That makes good sense given that Oklahoma and its native tribes already have legal agreements in place that have meant millions of dollars annually for those 39 nations.

Currently, there are more than 110 tribal casinos across Oklahoma that offer visitors their choice of slot machines, poker, blackjack, and live entertainment, but unfortunately, sports betting is not something that tribes can legally provide due to the agreements they have made with the state.

Those compacts outline exactly what forms of gaming are allowable and the issue at stake is whether sports betting could be added to that list or if those agreements would have to be fully renegotiated, the latter of which is considered a deal breaker by tribes.

Gorman reports that for the 2022 fiscal year, the Oklahoma Tribes took in more than $3.1 billion in gaming revenue – that’s from electronic and table games – however the state only saw a $191 million cut of that in exclusivity fees, and that number could increase with a renegotiation.

That’s not something the tribes want to risk despite the money they could also be taking in with the addition of a legal sports betting market connected to their casinos, now a multi-billion U.S. industry that has become a cash cow in over thirty other states.

Oklahoma lawmakers have reportedly expressed interest in further debating this issue.

It will take some serious debate by Sooner State lawmakers and tribal leaders before any forward movement can happen towards legal sports betting there, those talks most likely about to happen in their regular session which began during the first week of February.

Legislators will convene until the first day of June which gives them a few months to further compromise and avoid the pitfalls that cause prior efforts to fail as they did in 2022 when state Rep. Ken Luttrell introduced HB 3008 which died in the House after emerging from the committee.

Numerous other states including Arizona and Colorado have found ways to work with their native tribes to offer sports betting for their residents, so that’s more good news for Oklahoma sports gamblers who until further notice must use unregulated means to place their action.

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Mike Lukas

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

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