An Oklahoma sports betting bill is moving forward, but its future is murky.
Rep. Ken Luttrell’s OK sports betting bill, HB 1027, advanced through the House Committee on Appropriations and Budget last week, 27-4. It is the second straight year for a Luttrell-sponsored sports betting bill. Luttrell’s bill is headed toward the House floor, where representatives did not vote on the issue last year.
The crossover deadline is March 23, so time is running short in Oklahoma for the House to pass its bill. While there is hope for sports betting legislation in Oklahoma, at least one industry source believes there is too big of a gap between Gov. Kevin Stitt and the state’s gaming tribes to get the industry off the ground.
“It’s a good thing the bill was kept alive,” the source said. “But it’s a placeholder at best for what may or may not transpire.”
Oklahoma sports betting bill details
Luttrell’s deal would allow tribes in the state to open in-person sportsbooks and partner with online sports betting operators. Oklahoma tribes hold exclusive gaming rights in the state.
Should the bill pass, gaming expansion to sports betting requires at least four tribes to update their compacts with the state. There is a laddered approach to taxes that act as the tribal exclusivity fee in Luttrell’s bill:
- 4% for the first $5 million
- 5% on the next $5 million
- 6% on anything above $10 million
Oklahoma governor on board with sports betting
Stitt acknowledged that he would sign sports betting legislation as long as it is fair and allows the state to maximize its revenue potential. Stitt worked to include sports betting in two tribal compacts in 2020, but Oklahoma courts denied them.
The governor told The Oklahoman he has met with “a couple of tribes” about sports betting, as well as the NBA‘s Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I’m just trying to set the big vision an say, here’s what I’m looking for … Let’s go make this happen. Let’s make sure we learn from these other 40 states, or 25, or however many already have the sportsbook,” Stitt told The Oklahoman. “And let’s roll out Oklahoma’s similar, to maximize the profit or maximize the income for our education system, or for our economic development or wherever we’re going to designate those funds that come into the state.”
The tribes’ desires, however, are likely at odds with the Thunder’s wants, according to the industry source.
Tribes wary but potentially in on OK wagering
Oklahoma Indiana Gaming Association Chairman Matthew Morgan told the Tulsa World that some tribal leaders are apprehensive about working with Stitt.
“I think we can all agree sports betting is occurring already in the state and that the state and tribes would love to add that as a form of gaming,” Morgan told the Tulsa World. “But what does that proposal really look like in terms of who’s taking the risk and how the revenue is split up?”
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskins also told KOCO 5 he is open to discussing tribal gaming options.
Oklahoma hurdles left to clear
A potential roadblock, however, is Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat. While not an opponent, Treat does not believe sports betting is a priority for the state.
“The governor putting his weight behind it will make a difference probably, but I want to make sure everything we do is comprehensive,” Treat said, per KOCO 5. “So, I’m not saying, ‘Let’s go pass sports betting,’ and be done with it unless we have a comprehensive discussion.”
A recent poll by Amber Integrated found 44% of Oklahomans support sports betting, with another 8% undecided.