Oklahoma edges closer to legal sports betting

Sports betting in Kentucky was off to a strong start right out of the gate, attracting more than $4.5 million in wagering in the first two weeks after the launch, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. (AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner, File)

The push to make sports betting legal in Oklahoma accelerated this month when Gov. Kevin Stitt announced a plan to make it legal. The plan, which would allow Oklahomans to place bets in person at gaming sites operated by federally recognized tribal nations, hopes to address the many concerns surrounding the practice. 

One of the concerns about sports betting is the moral dilemma about allowing bets to be made surrounding the health of an athlete. Stitt addresses this in the plan by not allowing bets to be made about a player receiving an injury. One of the key points in the governor’s plan is to tax in-person sports betting by 15% and make mobile betting 20%. The plan will not allow prop bets to be made on collegiate competition. 

There 143 casinos operated by 33 tribal nations in the state. 

The plan has an open loophole that allows changes to be made in the event of shifts in NCAA and athletic conference standards and regulations. One of the many issues in the construction of this plan, saw the Governor not consult, address or even talk to Indian tribe leaders. 

Most sports betting, if approved, will be done in these tribal casinos. However, Stitt reportedly did not consult tribal leaders about the plan. 

“Unfortunately, the governor did not consult with the Choctaw Nation before announcing his proposal, despite our many years of leadership in operating gaming in Oklahoma and our clear interest in moving the economy forward,” said Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton in a statement. “Upon initial review, we do not believe the plan represents the best interests for the people of Oklahoma or the tribal nations that have done so much to support the state.”

Sports Betting has been made legal in 35 states and Stitt’s plan is based on his observation of those other states.

 “I looked at all 35 states and came up with the average of what those states are getting,” Stitt said. 

While sports betting is illegal in the state, it has not stopped Oklahoma residents from betting on third party websites. Many sports betting websites like DraftKings all have loose location software that allows users to list themselves in a legal state. 

The legislative vote is scheduled for February.

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