Oklahoma is one step closer to allowing retail sports betting at tribal-owned gaming facilities throughout the state. The bill made it through a key committee on Wednesday, but there is still a long way to go.
Pushing For a Sports Betting Market in Oklahoma
The House Appropriations and Budget Committee approved HB 3008, 28-3. Those who opposed the bill were Reps Sheila Dills, Scott Fetgatter, and Carl Newton. This betting bill now has until March 24th to pass the House in order to make it to the Senate.
The legislative session is scheduled to end on May 27th. At this moment, it is unclear if Gov. Kevin Stitt would support the bill as it will need his approval to launch legalized sports betting in the Sooner State.
Rep. Ken Luttrell introduced HB 3008 in early January, which noted that tribal casinos would pay 10 percent of their monthly net gain under the agreement. Lutrell cited a 2017 Oxford Economics Group study that suggests that Oklahoma could generate the state $240 million in revenue.
There is no doubt that launching sports betting market would create jobs to help local communities and the state’s economy. However, LSR’s John Holden suggests that the projections are a little off when seeing similar markets in the industry.
Mississippi is a good comparison of what Oklahoma could be. Mississippi’s population is slightly smaller when compared to Oklahoma. Since launching retail sports betting across the state in 2018, gross revenue hit $175 million, which translates to just $21 million in state taxes.
Oklahoma’s Gaming Market and its History
According to the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, the state’s 35 tribal nations operate more than 130 gaming facilities which is a monopoly on the market. These casinos offer those similar to Vegas and offer games of chance like slot machines. The tribes are in charge of 72,850 electronic devices and 5,300 bingo seats as there is no other source of competition as non-tribal casinos don’t operate in the state.
A tribe agreement almost brought sports betting to Oklahoma. Gov. Kevin Stitt, the Comanche Nation, and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe agreed to new compacts that would have allowed this type of wagering to take place. Even the Department of the Interior approved the compacts, but the plan stopped in its tracks as the state Supreme Court ruled against it.
Oklahoma is home to the Oklahoma City Thunder and many top college programs, especially in football and basketball. The annual Red River Showdown between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners is one of the nation’s most intense rivalries in football.
Neighboring States Looking to Legalize Sports Betting
Many neighboring states are looking to legalize sports betting. Missouri is still working on it, and Arkansas is looking to expand its reach to mobile. The first-day mobile sports betting became legal in Arkansas, none of the platforms were ready to launch for the public to use ahead of the SEC Tournament.
New Mexico’s tribes offer retail sports betting, and Colorado has become a prominent market in the industry, with approximately 99 percent of its wagers taking place via mobile devices or online.
Kansas and Texas do not have legalized sports betting markets. Texas has a wide range of fan bases, and if Oklahoma launches, many would cross state lines to place wagers on sporting events. Texas is the second-most populous state in the nation, and a recent study shows that 1 million people in the state bet illegally, which would add up to $5 billion a year.