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Oklahoma is home to over three dozen native tribes and thirty-three of them operate the 145 Indian casinos and gaming centers located across 50 counties, the compact that regulates all that action may or may not have expired back on January 1, 2020, or so said the governor.
A few years ago, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt claimed that the 2004 Compact signed by the state of Oklahoma and 35 tribes expired on the first day of 2020, and based on that claim Stitt began to renegotiate the terms of an updated compact that would include legal sports betting.
Except the tribes claim that automatic renewal is implied in the compact’s language and therefore it is still in place for the next fifteen years, the two sides battling it out until the start of last year when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Stitt had “overstepped his authority.”
Now a tribal friendly sports betting bill has died in the state Senate and its sponsor, State Rep. Ken Luttrell, claims it has nothing to do with Gov. Stitt’s bold moves, but more due to a general lack of interest in creating that type of market, one that might ruffle moral feathers in the state.
However, an industry insider blames that bill’s failure on timing.
This bill to legalize sports betting in Oklahoma never had a chance, according to Matthew Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, who claims that the legislation died because it was an election year and lawmakers are not prioritizing those concerns right now.
Morgan told the media he believes a bill like that has a much better chance in a non-election year when congress is more likely to legalize sports betting as a new source of revenue, saying:
I don’t think anybody had the expectation that something was going to zoom through the Legislature and get finished, but it was a good starting point to bring people to the table and start talking about what that may look like and to see where people stood.
Right now, OK’s native tribes pay the state 4% to 6% of their slot revenues and 10% of their table games take, a $150 million annual revenue stream that would only increase if legal sports betting were added to what those casinos could offer resident bettors in person and online.
It’s not like Oklahoma would be the first in that area of the United States to do so.
Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, every state has been allowed to decide if they want to bring legal sports betting market to their residents, and so far over thirty states have done that including Oklahoma neighbors Arkansas, Colorado, and New Mexico
What that does is give Sooner State bettors the option of traveling across state lines to place their sports wagers, or more likely they are using unregulated offshore sportsbooks to handle their action, with all that money benefitting operators outside the state instead of OK residents.
2023 is a non-election year in Oklahoma so expect some forward motion on this issue, but how the native tribes are included and whether outside operators are invited remains to be seen, so keep checking back for all the latest news and updates on this unfolding story.
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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]More info on Mike Lukas
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