Despite Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desire for sports betting, the issue will fall short again this year.
Oklahoma sports betting bill, HB 1027, failed to clear a Senate committee before a deadline last week. Rep. Ken Luttrell told KOCO-TV the chamber wanted to see more OK sports betting conversations between Stitt and Oklahoma’s gaming tribes.
The bill passed the House in March, 66-26, before the deadline to cross into the Senate. The legislation was kept alive in hopes of more discussions, according to LSR sources.
An industry source called the bill “a placeholder at best” in March.
Future of Oklahoma sports betting
Luttrell told KOCO-TV he plans to submit similar legislation next year. Sen. Bill Coleman, who supported Luttrell’s bill, asked for better cooperation from Stitt, per local media.
“I continue to believe that sports betting would be a good thing for our state,” Coleman told KFOR-TV. “The majority of my constituents who have reached out were overwhelmingly supportive of sports betting. However, it became clear during the process that there are too many unresolved issues that ultimately killed it this year.
“This legislation will take more than just passing a bill through the Legislature. When dealing with our tribal partners, compacting, and all the nuances that come with exclusivity and future gaming negotiations, we must get the governor in the same room with tribal leaders to build upon the conversation started this year by the Legislature.”
If similar legislation passes in the future, it will allow for in-person and online sports betting for Oklahoma’s gaming tribes, which hold gaming exclusivity in the state.
2023 was surprise movement
Stitt, a vocal sports betting proponent, worked to legalize the issue in 2020. The governor included sports betting in two tribal compacts, only to see state courts deny them.
According to local media reports and LSR sources, not all tribes are on the same page. The differences were enough to keep any deal from crossing the finish line. Stitt also likely wanted to include the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, a potential dealbreaker for at least some of the tribes.
Additionally, Senate leadership did not consider sports betting a priority.
“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,” Senate President Pro Temper Greg Treat told The Frontier in February. “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.”