Oklahoma state’s first legislative session for 2024 kicked off with introducing a sports betting measure. Senate Bill 1434, introduced by Senator Casey Murdock, aims to regulate wagering under the oversight of the Oklahoma Lottery Commission. The bill was first read in the house before moving on unopposed to Oklahoma’s Senate Rules Committee. SB 1434 received a second reading in the Committee before being pushed to the state’s Appropriations Committee.
The bill’s language details its proposal to permit federally recognized tribes to offer sports betting through contracts with the Oklahoma Lottery Commission. According to the bill, betting will be allowed to “sports pool retailers,” entities to which the commission would award licenses. The Sooner State is home to 38 federally recognized tribes.
Senate Bill 1434 defines online retailers as “any licensed in-person establishment or Internet-based application that allows for an individual to wager,” who must pay an initial licensing fee of $500,000. The license must then be renewed annually for an additional $100,000. The bill proposes a tax rate of 20% for sportsbooks that offer online bets, while the tax on retail betting is slightly lower at 15%.
Problem Gambling Initiatives and Education To Be Funded by Sportsbooks
Oklahoma lawmakers hope to use the additional revenue acquired from betting to fund the state’s education and gambling initiatives. Legalized betting can increase the state’s budget by over $9 million annually if a sports wagering bill is eventually passed.
Governor Kevin Stitt has maintained his pro-sports betting stance through the holiday season. The current legislative session kicked off with Stitt reintroducing the measure despite all previous attempts to legalize sports betting failing. House Bill 1027 was introduced in 2023 as a measure that would have allowed state tribes to offer online and retail sports wagering.
HB 1027 was sponsored by Rep. Ken Luttrell, who, at the time, also proposed wagering at racetracks if tribes were to enter a compact with the state.
Sports Betting in Oklahoma First Introduced by Governor Stitt
On November 2, 2023, Governor Stitt announced his plan to legalize sports betting in Oklahoma. The plan would have allowed state residents to participate in in-person wagers at state-recognized gaming sites by the state’s tribes. This bill aimed to protect tribal investments in brick-and-mortar facilities in the state.
The bill also included language for legalizing mobile betting through a single sportsbook licensed by the state. The plan also proposed to protect the state’s student-athletes by prohibiting prop bets and wagers on individual student-athlete performance.
“I promised Oklahomans if we pursued sports betting, we would do it right— and this plan does just that,” Governor Stitt said. “Thirty-five states have already legalized sports betting, which’ll be a great revenue stream for the state. Tribes can add it to their existing infrastructure, and Oklahomans can access it from their phone.”
If passed, the bill will allow the Oklahoma Lottery Commission to enter agreements with various stakeholders for sports pool operation, marketing, and promotion. The authorization will allow the commission to collaborate with federally recognized tribes, paving the way for formal approval by the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations as per the provisions outlined in Section 1221 of Title 74 of the Oklahoma Statutes.
If passed into law, the bill will allow the commission to adopt and amend rules, policies, and procedures necessary for its expanded roles and responsibilities in governing wagering activity in the state. The bill’s second reading signifies the lawmakers’ shifting stance towards legalized sports wagering in the state.
The measures included in this version of the bill address some critical gaps identified during prior attempts at legalized sports betting in Oklahoma. Some lawmakers hope to ensure the responsible and transparent management of sports pools while channeling the revenue generated toward the state’s public initiatives.