Oklahoma Sooners

  • After nearly three months, the courts of Oklahoma have decided that two Tribal Gaming Compacts that included legal sports betting are null and void.
  • Governor Kevin Stitt cleared a path for the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes to provide sportsbooks at their locations although he had no permission by the state to do so.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma will not be getting sports betting this year even though it was part of two new Tribal Gaming Compacts drawn up in 2020 for the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes.

Governor Kevin Stitt was behind the compacts that allowed for sportsbooks to open in the state but was quickly taken to court on the issue.

Oklahoma law prohibits wagering on sports and lawmakers made the case that Stitt did not have the authority to bypass the proper legislative channels that are necessary to allow for something new like sports betting to be introduced into the state.

What’s Happening In Oklahoma

The Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes were the only two tribes in Oklahoma that wanted compacts where sports betting was added to the list of gaming they could provide to customers at their casino locations.

All compacts are renewed or new ones are written up every fifteen years. With the courts not allowing the new compacts from 2020 to be implemented, both tribes are continuing to operate with the expired paperwork still in their possession from 2005.

“The compacts are valid. That’s our legal position,” said Rob Rosette, an attorney who represented the tribes in compact negotiations. “The Supreme Court of Oklahoma does not have jurisdiction over either one of these tribes.”

Although they are still offering Class III gaming at their properties with the expired compacts, they have chosen to pay the flat rate fees of the 2020 compacts that were set at 4.5%.

They are abiding by the court’s decision of no sports betting or other games that they could have had with the newer compacts as they have decided to wait until these games are made legal by the state.

However, the fees have nothing to do with any law which is why they are going by the newer fee rate rather than pay the higher fees from 2005 that are based on a sliding scale with each individual game and the amount of business it receives.

Sports Betting Outlook In Oklahoma

The reason these two tribes out of the 30 others in Oklahoma chose to move forward with an addition of sports betting was that it would mean more profits for them. They represent some of the smaller tribes in the state and could use more outlets for profiting.

But the Oklahoma Supreme Court has tied the hands of Governor Stitt, giving him no wiggle room on the issue.

“The state has zero negotiating power,” said Kevin Slicker, managing partner at Tulsa-based GP Gaming Consultants. “They have to take what they’re given now.”

For what was thought to be a long and drawn out fight by the Governor against the state with this case which began July 1, turned out to be a rather quick one.

However, now Oklahoma will be dealing with whether or not they are going to allow the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes to pick and choose from two separate compacts; operating under the terms of 2005 while paying the fees of 2020.

Legal sports betting in Oklahoma will be a topic brought up in the 2021 session. The Oklahoma Legislature convenes on February 1, 2021.

Many are estimating that the Governor, the tribes, or both will bring the subject of gambling on sports to the floor for consideration by lawmakers and finally be able to make sports wagering a legal pastime in the Sooner State, through the proper legislative channels this time around.

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