Oklahoma Governor Approves Sports Betting In Tribal Compacts, But AG Says It’s Illegal

Posted on April 21, 2020 - Last Updated on April 22, 2020

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt wants to allow legal sports betting for at least two tribal casino operators through renegotiated compacts.

But the state’s Attorney General Mike Hunter, unsurprisingly, disagrees.

Hunter released a statement suggesting sports betting is still illegal despite the governor’s wishes:

“The agreements signed today between the governor, the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and the Comanche Nation are not authorized by the state Tribal Gaming Act, Title 3A, Section 261 et. sec. The governor has the authority to negotiate compacts with the tribes on behalf of the state. However, only gaming activities authorized by the act may be the subject of a tribal gaming compact. Sports betting is not a prescribed ‘covered game’ under the act.”

Compacts beg to differ

While Hunter seems to believe his stance is clear-cut, so too does Stitt through the compacts he negotiated with the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe.

The text of the compact makes it pretty clear Stitt believes the state’s stance does not matter:

“For the avoidance of doubt, even if it should be found that the State’s conduct of Event Wagering is in violation of the State’s obligations, if any, under compacts with other Oklahoma tribes, such a finding shall have no effect on the Tribe’s right to engage in Event Wagering.”

New Mexico is the only state in which tribes operate sports betting without enabling state law.

Details of Oklahoma sports betting

The Comanche and Otoe-Missouria‘s casinos can offer pretty vast sports betting markets at their casinos — and eventually outside of them.

Betting is allowed on all sporting events, including esports, except on in-state colleges and any collegiate events that take place within the state.

The tribes are currently limited to offering betting at two casinos. Along with retail sportsbooks, mobile betting is allowed but will be geofenced to tribal land.

Non-tribal locations included

The compacts also note that “at some future time,” the state can license up to five non-tribal sports betting locations. Three of those could be targeted for horse racing tracks.

A tribe can also sell or lease those rights to another tribe that has event wagering authorized under its compact. The tribes have to get a third-party vendor to operate risk management. They cannot own more than 1% of that company.

The tribes will not pay taxes on sports betting revenue but rather on handle, according to the compacts. Sports betting will be taxed at “1.10% of the Patron’s Event Wagering transaction total, to be assessed in addition to the transaction total and calculated on a per wager basis.”

Compact negotiations haven’t come easy

The governor and gaming tribes in Oklahoma have been at odds since last year. Stitt called for the compacts to be renegotiated, as he believed the compacts expired at the beginning of this year. The tribes, meanwhile, took the stance that the compacts would automatically renew.

The Cherokee, Chickasaw and Chocktaw nations filed a federal lawsuit with other tribes joining later. Ten tribes remain a part of that lawsuit after the settlement of the Comanche and Otoe-Missouria.

News of inclusion of Oklahoma sports betting in new compacts broke last month, but the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association said the tribes that received the offer turned it down and were sticking together, according to local outlet News On 6.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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