Oklahoma Lawmaker Hopes to Add Sports Betting to Tribal Gaming Compacts
Oklahoma Representative Ken Luttrell filed a bill on Monday that would add to the state-tribal compact that allows casinos to operate within the state. He is also in discussions with tribal members to evaluate their interest in adding sports betting as an offering in their casinos.
In a statement, Representative Luttrell said, “I have had conversations with our gaming tribes during the interim to gauge their interest on this topic.” But, he also added, “I feel the time is right for Oklahoma to partner with the tribes and ensure a level, competitive gaming playing field with the surrounding states.”
It’s unclear whether there will be support for the bill in the state legislature or if Republican Governor Kevin Stitt would consider signing any such bill into law. He has previously attempted to invalidate Oklahoma’s current tribal gaming compacts, arguing that the compacts expired at the start of 2020.
However, a federal judge sided with the tribes in July 2020. He indicated that the compacts met the renewal requirements, which would add another 15 years to the agreement.
Governor Stitt Has Little Interest in Negotiating with Tribes
The Oklahoma governor has had two of his recent gaming compacts with the tribes dismissed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. According to the high court, the two pacts do not comply with state law.
One of the reasons the court overturned the compacts was because the terms were different from the 2004 model compact that voters approved. The agreements also lacked approval from a joint legislative committee.
Two separate lawsuits which influenced the Supreme Court decision were brought forward by Greg Treat, the Senate president and Speaker of the House Charles McCall, stating that the governor had gone beyond the boundaries of his legal authority when negotiating the compacts.
Nevertheless, Governor Stitt remains unhappy with the court’s decision.
Luttrell Feels the State Is Missing an Opportunity
Luttrell says the state is missing out on benefitting from revenue that sports bettors in Oklahoma give to other states or from participating in illegal sports betting within its borders.
According to Luttrell, the Oxford Economics Group estimated that legalizing sports betting would generate more than $240 million in revenue for the state and result in over 3,000 jobs.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal ban on sports betting came nearly four years ago. After that, it was expected that state legislators would reach a quick agreement with the tribes to add sports betting to the current compact, which allows gambling in tribal casinos.
More than 30 states have legalized some form of sports betting, and there are several others ready to pass legislation in 2022.