Oklahoma Considers SCOTUS Decision In Sports Betting Legalization Debate

Written By Phil West on June 28, 2024
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, who could work with tribes to legalize sports betting

Both Texas and Oklahoma find themselves among a minority of US states without some form of legalized sports betting. But unlike Texas, Oklahoma has a legislative session in 2024, and a pro-legalization bill made progress before failing to clear a Senate committee ahead of a key legislative deadline.

While Texas sports betting appears headed for a battle in 2025 involving warring factions in the Republican Party, Oklahoma’s governor, Kevin Stitt, remains motivated to get a sports betting bill passed as soon as the Sooner State’s next session.

Tribal involvement a key issue in legalization debate

PlayUSA’s coverage from last week notes that Stitt is a “roadblock” to Oklahoma adopting a plan similar to the Seminole Tribe’s compact in Florida that would factor in Native American concerns alongside what the state’s seeking to adopt.

Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chairman Matthew Morgan, addressing the Supreme Court’s decision not to take on a case challenging the Seminole Tribe’s compact, said, “While this decision does not directly affect the potential for sports betting in Oklahoma, it should remind us all of what may be possible when governmental leaders sit across the table to work toward respectful, lawful, and solution-oriented agreements.”

Back in November, Stitt articulated a vision on the state’s official website, making clear his hopes of legalizing sports betting. According to the website,

The Governor’s plan, which would allow Oklahomans to place in-person bets at gaming sites operated by federally recognized tribes, would protect tribal investments in brick-and-mortar facilities. The plan would also allow Oklahomans to place bets on their mobile devices on a sportsbook licensed by the state. Additionally, the plan protects Oklahoma’s student-athletes by prohibiting prop betting and bets on individual student-athlete performance.

Under the plan, “Mobile wagering will be conducted by organizations licensed by the State of Oklahoma, taxed at a 20% rate, and bets may be accepted from anywhere in the state. An initial licensing fee for participating organizations of $500,000 will be required, in addition to a $100,000 annual fee. … Retail wagering [will be] taxed at a 15% rate.”

Governor eyeing other states’ sports betting systems

In April, when a pro-legalization bill failed to advance, Stitt told News9 in Oklahoma City, “I’ve studied what other states have done, and there’s 35 other states that have a sports betting system, and so we can see exactly how that’s set up. … Maybe we’ll come in and work on that next year, but I certainly want us to get something across the finish line that’s fair for Oklahomans.”

But he added, “I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, because the bill that was proposed by one of the members wasn’t exactly the one that was transparent and fair. [It was] not thought through enough, not clear enough.”

According to KTUL-TV in Tulsa, Sen. Bill Coleman, co-author of House Bill 1027, acknowledged that even though HB1027 passed in the House in 2023 and made it to the Senate’s rules committee, it’s been sitting there ever since because the state and tribes have not agreed on how sports gambling would operate in Oklahoma.

Stitt has struggled to meet Oklahoma tribes in a suitable place, which is a major reason why sports betting has yet to launch in the Sooner State. If the state were to follow in the footsteps of the Seminole Tribe, it would take Stitt and tribal leaders coming together to hammer out a compact that allows tribal sports betting in a manner that benefits both parties. Despite the Seminole roadmap, that may still be a tall order for a state with so many tribal interests as Oklahoma.

Photo by Nick Oxford / AP Images
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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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