The sports betting legalization scrap is heating up in Oklahoma, with the next legislative session set to start next month. Lawmakers have pre-filed a couple of bills, with State Senator Casey Murdock taking the lead with SB 1434. The bill would legalize sports betting with authorization from the Oklahoma Lottery Commission.
The state of Oklahoma is one of the jurisdictions in the US where tribal casinos and racetracks dominate the market. The SB 1434 bill outlines all agreements around in-person sports pools with other jurisdictions, including native tribes. Apart from that, Representative T.J. Marti has pre-filed HB 3360 and provides an alternate path for legalizing online sports betting in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s Governor, Kevin Stitt, is not against the decision to legalize sports betting in his jurisdiction. Oklahoma houses over 100 tribal casinos, but there is no regulation for licensed sportsbooks.
Stitt’s Plan for Sports Betting in Oklahoma
The Governor states that all forms of retail betting should be through the Indian tribes. Apart from in-person bets, wagers should be accepted at every legal retail betting outlet. Finally, the taxation rate for retail betting operators should be 15 percent.
For online betting, the governor stated that any operator who wants to obtain a permit must pay an initial licensing fee of $500,000. Once the license application is approved, the operator must pay an additional licensing fee of $100,000. In addition to that, a 20 percent tax will be levied on the operator’s annual revenue. All rules and regulations will revolve around accountability and player protection.
Should the market go live in Oklahoma, props will not be allowed for college sports betting. So far, Sen. Murdock’s SB 1434 bill goes hand-in-hand with Gov. Stitt’s recommended rules and regulations. However, Oklahoma is still nowhere close to legalizing betting in the state.
Arguments For Legalization
The debate over the legalization of betting has several key areas. The proponents state it will bring economic benefits, create jobs, provide player protection, and create competitive equity.
The economic benefits would come directly from either a part of the licensing fee or the tax generated from gambling operators in the Sooner State. Player protection measures include verifying the age of bettors and creating responsible gambling programs.
Many retail and online betting operators will enter the state if the Oklahoman market goes live. The new outlets and offices would require a new workforce, thereby increasing the number of jobs in the gambling and hospitality sector. It will also prevent bettors from crossing state lines to gamble and reduce the threat of illegal betting platforms.
Arguments Against Legalization
The opponents raise equal concerns that could arise if betting is legalized in the Sooner State. The Indian Tribes are among the opponents, and the concerns revolve around addiction and social costs, the exclusivity of Tribal casinos, the lack of consultation, and other regulatory challenges.
Before the legalization of betting in many other regulated jurisdictions, opponents spoke of player addiction leading to harmful gambling. In Oklahoma, the same concern is there.
Some opponents believe that Gov. Stitt has tabled his plan without taking the necessary advice from tribal and state officials. This could directly impact the gaming rights of the tribes and give rise to their lack of exclusivity. The opponents are also concerned about the regulations and associated costs.
Oklahoma Governor Eager to Launch Sports Betting
Bill 1027 was introduced to the House of Representatives almost one year ago. The bill was created to add legal sports betting to tribal casinos and was passed in the House a month after its introduction. But since then, it has only gone to the Senate and has been stagnant for almost ten months.
Gov. Stitt expressed enthusiastic thoughts when he revealed his initial plans for the Oklahoman betting market. “I promised Oklahomans if we pursued sports betting, we would do it right— and this plan does just that. Thirty-five states have already legalized sports betting, and it’ll be a great revenue stream for the state. Tribes will be able to add it onto their existing infrastructure, and Oklahomans can access it right from their phone,” said Stitt in an official statement in November.