Matthew Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association

  • Legal sports betting in Oklahoma is something that has been a hot topic since Governor Kevin Stitt made it legal with two Tribes in April.
  • Stitt’s decision was repealed in July before any sportsbooks could open in the state.
  • In the 2021 session, it is expected that legalizing a sports wagering market in Oklahoma will be discussed in length as the state is looking for more revenue due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

OKLAHOMA CITYLegal sports betting in Oklahoma could still be in the cards for the residents of the state but the final verdict won’t be happening any sooner as there is still much to talk about on the subject.

Anyone in Oklahoma knows that Governor Kevin Stitt decided to legalize gambling on sporting events through two Tribal Gaming Compacts with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation earlier this year.

The addition of sports gaming to these compacts was taken to court by the state with the argument that Governor Stitt did not have the authority to bypass the legislative process and make sports betting legal and the state won that argument.

But, not all hope is lost for the future of legal sports betting in Oklahoma.

Where Does Legal Sports Betting Lie For Oklahoma Now?

The Tribes in Oklahoma, not just the two that changed their compacts to include sports wagering, are in no rush to expand into sportsbooks at this time.

Most, if not all Tribal Gaming Compacts in the Sooner State have been renewed without gambling on sports matchups listed within them.

However, there is the question of whether or not sports wagers could be classified as Class III gaming. If they were, Tribes would already be eligible to open sportsbooks under their current compacts.

But, knowing this, the Tribes would still feel more comfortable going about any type of gaming expansion through the state and the entire bill to law legislative process so that there are no mishaps like what occurred with the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and Comanche Nation’s when simply going through the Governor.

Due to Governor Stitt being unable to go through with his promised compacts of sportsbooks, it’s left the Tribes even more hesitant toward the industry which is why they’re happy with where things stand now.

“There’s no clock ticking on when this needs to get done,” said Matthew Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association. “I guess it could come up the next legislative session, but it may not. I don’t think you’d see most tribal leaders in a hurry to get this done. It needs to be done correctly. And that’s probably going to take time. That relationship between the governor and tribal leaders needs to be repaired.”

Governor Stitt went to court over the summer where a 7-1 vote said that the negotiated compacts with wagering on sports that he drew up in April were not legal.

Prior to the trial, Stitt said he would fight, no matter the cost. But once his decision was overturned by majority vote, he complied with the court and the compacts he was responsible for no longer included sports betting.

Now What?

Oklahoma is looking to discuss legalizing sportsbooks in the state because they need the revenue it could bring in from the financial problems caused by the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

There will likely be discussions during the 2021 legislative session and a few bills on the table to legalize the industry. The Tribes of the Sooner State are open to this but their state of mind is to take it or leave it as it’s not a pressing matter for them considering they already have gaming businesses.

“I’ve consistently said that I think sports betting or wagering is a potential negotiating point for the state in its compact negotiations with the tribes,” said Greg Treat, Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem. “If an overall compact agreement is reached that is beneficial to all Oklahomans, I will consider it.”

But after the trial endured by Governor Stitt, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that legalizing sportsbooks in the state is something that needs to be done by the Legislature.

If the Tribes are on board as well as lawmakers for the new revenue stream in 2021, legal sports betting in Oklahoma could actually be coming to the state sooner rather than later.

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