Oklahoma Sports Betting Plans Set by Governor Stitt, Surprising Some Tribes and Lawmakers

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Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma (pictured) has put forward a comprehensive plan to introduce legal sports betting within the state, aiming to launch in-person and online wagering options. The proposal is a significant step towards a regulated Oklahoma sports betting market, which has been in consideration for at least a year.

Stitt’s vision for sports betting in the state is to integrate it seamlessly with the existing Tribal gaming framework. Oklahoma retail sportsbooks would be incorporated into tribal casino venues, like WinStar World Casino or Choctaw Durant, and mobile sport betting would also be offered.

“I promised Oklahomans if we pursued sports betting, we would do it right— and this plan does just that,” said a press release from the Governor’s office.

“Thirty-five states have already legalized sports betting, and it’ll be a great revenue stream for the state. Tribes will be able to add it onto their existing infrastructure, and Oklahomans can access it right from their phone.”

Safeguarding Collegiate Sports

Stitt is steadfast that Oklahoma casino venues will be authorized by the state-Tribal gaming compacts to offer sports betting.

There are currently 143 licensed Tribal gambling venues of some kind or another in Oklahoma, so the potential uptake could be huge. Retail sportsbooks would have a proposed tax rate of 15% on in-person wagering revenue.

For mobile betting, Oklahoma would issue licenses to operators at an initial cost of $500,000, plus an annual renewal fee of $100,000. These mobile license holders would be taxed at a higher rate of 20%.

A key aspect of Stitt’s plan is the protection of collegiate sports. The proposal outlines a prohibition on betting related to the individual performances of student-athletes, coaches, or referees, as well as prop bets on college games.

This reflects a cautious approach to maintain the integrity of college sports, with Stitt seeking further input from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and athletic conferences.

In 2023, the impact of sports betting on college athletes and athletics has been on a hot-button topic across the U.S. Earlier in the year, several Division 1 college athletes at Iowa State, including star quarterback Hunter Dekkers, were suspended over gambling violations. Several even faced criminal charges for allegedly using friends’ or relatives’ betting accounts to place wagers while underage.

Controversies Remain

The sports betting clauses in the compacts proposed by Governor Stitt and the tribes should not be as contentious as the two new agreements that were rejected last month by the state’s Joint Committee on State Tribal Relations.

However, some lawmakers expect challenges to the latest proposal as laid out. Earlier in 2023, Representative Ken Luttrell (R-Ponca City) led the push of an unsuccessful sports betting bill. He says that his team was not approached for advice by Governor Stitt before the latest announcement.

This, Luttrell says, could jeopardize the Governor’s plans, as they haven’t adequately taken concerns of lawmakers, citizens, and Tribes into account.

“He did not avail himself of any of the resources that we offered,” the representative said.

“He cannot enter into contracts between the state and outside vendors to do mobile sports betting. Hopefully this will open some dialog with negotiations between the Governor and myself, Senator Coleman, and the Tribes.”

House Bill 1027 was introduced earlier in the year. The bill passed the House in a 66 to 22 vote, but has since stalled. With 35 tribes currently engaged in some form of gambling in the state, the potential for sports betting is not lost on the Governor.

If any effort is to pass, the Tribes will have to be consulted throughout the process – something which The Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association says has not happened yet.

“While we appreciate Gov. Stitt finally joining the sports betting conversation, to date he has not engaged in meaningful and respectful government-to-government discussion with tribes,” said Matthew L. Morgan, chairman of the association, in a statement to local Oklahoma news outlet KFOR.

“We remain hopeful that he is committed to moving forward in a productive manner in accord with established law and process, which would include working with the Oklahoma Legislature to offer a compact supplement to tribes within the State-Tribal Gaming Act construct that protects the tribes’ substantial gaming exclusivity.”

Related: The best online casinos in Oklahoma, rated and reviewed

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