Oklahoma Legislator ‘Ready To Take Money From Texans’ With Sports Betting

Written By Phil West on December 29, 2023 - Last Updated on January 2, 2024
A woman vacuuming money from a man's pocket on a story about why one OK legislator wants Texans to sports bet in his state.

The WinStar World Casino and Resort has long been a magnet for gaming enthusiasts on both sides of the Texas-Oklahoma border. Now, with WinStar expanding how and where people can participate via online gaming, one Oklahoma legislator advocating for sports betting is setting his sights anew on the massive Lone Star State market.

“I know the new Choctaw casino in Durant has a nice sports area, and it has windows there ready to take money from Texans,” said Sen. Bill Coleman (R-Ponca City) to PoncaCityNow.com, in a story covering the Chickasaw Nation’s new app. “I just have a burning desire to get this done.”

The Chickasaw Nation, owners of WinStar, coordinated with Anaxi, Aristocrat’s real-money iGaming division, to debut an online gambling platform earlier this month exclusively for tribal gaming operators. People can now play from their phones anywhere on WinStar property, and the significance of that was not lost on Coleman.

“Good for them because that’s where the industry is going. At some point you can’t get on the machine at WinStar. There’s so many people there. Well, you can go to your car now and gamble right there on your phone.

“What’s going to be interesting is to see if this grows outside of the parking lot of WinStar to where you could make a bet anywhere in Chickasaw country.”

Online casinos still illegal off reservation lands in Oklahoma

Texas remains void of any commercial casinos or sports betting. Texas online casinos are also illegal. No gambling options will be considered by lawmakers until at least 2025, when the Texas Legislature next reconvenes.

WinStar launched its new online casino app two months after gaining approval from the National Indian Gaming Association to offer Class II iGaming.

Despite that approval, Oklahoma, like Texas, prohibits online casinos at a state level. Unlike Texas, however, tribes in Oklahoma are allowed to operate resort-style casinos like WinStar and the forthcoming Lakecrest Hotel and Casino, set to open this coming spring.

It means that Texas will continue to cede massive amounts of gaming revenue to its northern neighbor.

Oklahoma governor pushing to legalize sports betting

Meanwhile, the drumbeat is getting louder for legalizing sports betting in Oklahoma. Gov. Kevin Stitt presented a sports betting plan in November he believes would work for The Sooner State.

Stitt’s plan would allow Oklahomans (and visitors from Texas) to bet in person at sportsbooks that are operated by federally recognized tribes. Additionally, the state would award licenses to mobile sports wagering operators to host online sports betting.

His proposal would keep exclusive rights to in-person sports betting with Oklahoma tribes, with revenue taxed at 15%. Online sports betting, however, would be open to all sportsbook operators, which would be required to pay $500,000 for a license and $100,000 in yearly fees. Revenue from online sports betting would be taxed at 20%.

The plan has met with some level of opposition from Native American tribes and some lawmakers. Coleman is not one of the latter.

“There are people that won’t play a machine that would put a sports bet down at the drop of a hat. The clock is ticking. We are losing money out of state and it’s time to get sports betting in Oklahoma.”

Photo by Shutterstock / Illustration by PlayTexas
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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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