An Oklahoma sports betting bill believed to be on ice took a surprise step forward Tuesday, though its prospects remain uncertain at best.
The House advanced an OK sports betting bill Tuesday, 66-26. The bill, HB 1027, needed to pass into the Senate by Thursday to stay alive this session. However, any additional legislative movement this year will require plenty of stakeholder discussions.
An industry source previously told LSR the bill is being kept alive in hopes Gov. Kevin Stitt and the state’s gaming tribes can come together for a sports betting deal. The bill advanced with its title off, which suggests it still requires additional changes and must return to the House.
“It’s a good thing the bill was kept alive,” a source said this month when it passed a committee, 27-4. “But it’s a placeholder at best for what may or may not transpire.”
Surprise movement in Oklahoma
Stitt previously vocalized his support for sports betting. He also said he and the tribes are working on a sports betting deal.
Stitt also worked to include sports betting in two tribal compacts in 2020, but Oklahoma courts denied them. Not all tribes are on board with the effort, according to comments from the Oklahoma Indiana Gaming Association Chairman Matthew Morgan.
“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?”
Sports betting support needed from Oklahoma tribes
The bill sponsored by Rep. Ken Luttrell would allow Oklahoma tribes to open in-person sportsbooks. The tribes could also partner with online sports betting operators.
Tribes hold exclusive gaming rights in Oklahoma. The legislation requires tribes to work with the state to renegotiate their revenue share.
Sports betting not a Senate priority
The bill will head to the Senate, but it does not appear likely the chamber will move the legislation, at least without in-depth discussions.
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat told The Frontier he wants to address sports betting in a “methodical manner.” Treat decides which bills are heard in the Senate.
“Like everything, I want to approach it in a methodical manner, but my position has not changed: I’m not interested in moving that by itself,” Treat told The Frontier. “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.”