Oklahoma sports betting is over before it even started.
Gov. Kevin Stitt lost Tuesday in a case that questioned what he could offer in tribal compact negotiations. The lawsuit, brought by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall, suggested Stitt did not have the power to bind the state of Oklahoma to new laws.
The court ruled 7-1 against the governor. The only dissenting vote was cast because the tribes involved were not present.
“The tribal gaming compacts Governor Stitt entered into with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria tribes are invalid under Oklahoma law,” the opinion reads. “The State of Oklahoma is not and cannot be legally bound by those compacts until such time as the Legislature enacts laws to allow the specific Class III gaming at issue, and in turn, allowing the Governor to negotiate additional revenue.”
This means sports betting in Oklahoma is back to square one and, once again, illegal.
Oklahoma sports betting background
Stitt, who currently is battling COVID-19, authorized sports betting in Oklahoma this year in an unconventional way.
The governor authorized “event wagering” in new compacts with the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. Event wagering authorizes betting on sports, including esports, with only college events limited. There’s no betting on in-state college teams or collegiate games played in Oklahoma.
Despite attempts to stop the compacts, including the lawsuit and an official opinion from Attorney General Mike Hunter, both were approved without action by the Department of the Interior. The compacts went live when they were listed in the Federal Register in late June.
Stitt has multiple tribal issues on plate
Stitt’s tribal woes started last year when he announced all tribal compacts had to be renegotiated as they expired Jan. 1.
Many tribes disagreed. It led to another federal lawsuit brought originally by the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Chocktaw nations with others joining later.
And the Supreme Court case concerning the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe isn’t the only one for Stitt.
The governor approved two more compacts with the Kialegee Tribal Town and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, both of which are being legally challenged by Treat and McCall. That lawsuit also will be heard by the Supreme Court as well, though a petition to consolidate was denied.