Oklahoma’s Latest Sports Betting Bill Failed Before Senate Vote Stage

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A bill tabled by Oklahoma State Representative Ken Luttrell (R-37) that aimed to legalize tribal sports betting in the state has failed at a late hurdle.

House Bill 1027 passed The House of Representatives in March with a 66-26 vote in favor. It was then sent to a Senate committee to discuss before submission to a full Senate vote.

However, the committee failed to reach a conclusion on the bill in time for last Friday’s deadline for Senate votes, as reported by local news outlet KOCO 5.

The bill would have seen tribal gaming operators in the Sooner State allowed to launch in-person and online mobile sports betting.

Top Priorities

Senators wanted to see more concrete discussions between the tribes and the governor on a number of issues before they voted any bill.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has previously expressed a pro-sports betting opinion.

“Let me be clear: I support sports betting in Oklahoma, provided that it’s fair, transparent, & the state can maximize revenue potential to invest in top priorities, like education.” he tweeted back in January this year.

Regardless of Governor Stitt’s opinion, this latest news means no legal sports betting for Oklahoma residents in 2023.

The next time Oklahoma lawmakers will assemble to vote on new bills will be in February 2024.

Related: Our fully updated guide to Oklahoma’s gambling laws

Economic Advantages

Luttrell told local reporters he would, however, be trying again with the bill.

He was confident enough back in February of this year when it breezed past the House committee meeting stage. Although, Luttrell himself did chair the discussion.

“My colleagues saw the advantage, the economic advantage to this, the restoration of tribal-legislative relations,” he said at the time.

“We feel that this is a win-win and something that the governor can get behind and something that Senator Coleman can work on getting the Senate behind also.”

Tribal Relations

However, one big hurdle to any legislation passing is right there in the above quote.

Namely, the relationship between the leadership of Oklahoma’s 35 tribal gaming groups and the state government. Which has been a difficult one in recent years.

Governor Stitt tried to renegotiate existing tribal gaming contracts in 2022. When he was rebuffed after several court cases, Stitt was accused of terminating long-held hunting and fishing compacts.

The Tribes then threw their hat behind Democratic candidate Joy Hofmeister in 2022’s gubernatorial election, the first time they have openly been involved in politics in this traditionally Republican state.

In the end, Governor Stitt handily held on to his position.

No Progress This Year

After all that, Luttrell was clearly hopeful his new legal sports betting proposal might smooth over the bumpy past between the two factions. But the Senate committee didn’t see enough progress and discussion to merit a vote.

Now, proponents of the bill will have to sit and watch for at least another year, as Oklahoma sports bettors travel to the neighboring states of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, or Arkansas to place legal bets.

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