Oklahoma House of Representatives

  • House Bill 1027 was passed by the Committee on Appropriations and Budget this Thursday.
  • The bill is reportedly “broadly written” to allow for flexibility and boost its chances of passing.
  • Tribes would be allowed to either partner with existing casino and sportsbook operators or make their own.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill through their Appropriations and Budget Committee Thursday. House Bill 1027 seeks to legalize sports betting, mainly through tribes in the state partnering with established operators or creating their own sportsbooks/casinos.

This bill is the second try by Rep. Ken Luttrell, who made a similar bill in the last legislative session but was unable to secure any votes on the floor. Importantly, the idea of legalizing sports betting has been supported by Governor Kevin Stitt and could majorly boost the possibility of legal sports betting in Oklahoma becoming a big source of revenue.

How Close is Oklahoma to Legalizing?

At the moment, Oklahoma still has about three months remaining in their current legislative session, and were able to pass HB 1207 through committee in about a month. Gov. Stitt has previously stated that he would like to have sports betting legalized by the end of this session.

The bill will likely need heavy deliberation, especially because Luttrell has stated that it was “broadly written” in order to allow for changes to be made during the legislative process. There is likely cause for optimism given the momentum with other states passing legalization bills in recent months combined with HB 1207’s flexibility.

HB 1207 allows for Native American tribes to enter new sports betting deals, this time giving them the freedom of either creating their own casinos and sportsbooks, or partnering alongside big names in the industry. Mobile betting is included in the bill but tribes will have the agency to restrict those types of bets to only tribal land via the use of geolocation.

The role of tribes in the passing and negotiation of this bill will be an important aspect of the legislation, especially because Stitt previously worsened their relationship after attempting to renegotiate the existing sports betting compact to net the state more revenue.

Luttrell is hopeful though, believing that the governor, legislators, and tribes can set aside their differences to create a proposal that helps Oklahomans and Native Americans equally.

The Oxford Economic Group has estimated that legalizing sports betting in Oklahoma would net them approximately $240 million in revenue and Luttrell has stated it would create about 3,000 new jobs.

With over 130 tribal gaming facilities throughout Oklahoma, the legalizing of sports betting would be monumental for the government receiving tax revenue, Oklahomans at-large gaining a new form of entertainment, and tribes now gaining a massive influx of money to help their governments create social programs.

While the bill has not yet gone to a vote on the House floor and would require the Senate to also pass it, Luttrell remains optimistic about the bill’s chances this year.

If Oklahoma’s government can manage to pull it off within their current legislative session, it would be a huge win for the world of legal sports betting as well as the Oklahomans and tribes that would benefit as a result.

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