The hope would be that a place that calls itself the Sooner State would live up to its moniker when it comes to sports betting. As in, Sooner rather than Later. Well, in Oklahoma, it looks like later and the hope would be that later even happens. There is a lot of friction between the state government, most notably Governor Kevin Stitt, and the tribes that operate the casinos.
Primarily, the loudest of the tribes are the Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw, who all carry substantial power and leverage when it comes to Oklahoma and casino gaming. It is a little-known fact in Oklahoma that there are 130 tribal casinos. Some of them are the full-fledged casino structures that you would envision if somebody mentioned the word “casino”. Others are just small gambling halls or tiny gaming establishments that only have slot machines or other games of chance.
Things have changed with the gaming landscape in Oklahoma over the last 18 months. Back in 2018, the state of Oklahoma actually approved legislation to add roulette and craps for the tribal casinos. It was an expansion of gambling that helped both sides, as the state catches a chunk of revenue year in and year out for allowing the tribes to operate casinos in the state. Roulette has a high house advantage and craps can as well, depending on how the players are betting.
Recently, though, Stitt has gotten into some legal battles with the tribal casinos based on their gaming compacts and based on some national legislation that has been introduced that would allow tribes the opportunity to offer mobile sports betting. That bill, proposed by a New York legislator, would be an amendment to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, so this is one to watch closely in a lot of states across the country because there are quite a few states that either have only tribal casinos or have a blend of tribal casinos and the more conventional corporate casinos.
As a result of the ongoing tensions and political footballs being hurled back and forth, sports betting has been firmly placed on the backburner in Oklahoma. There are bigger fish to fry and more important happenings within the realm of legal gambling.
We’ve been finding through our research on a state-by-state level that there are a variety of hindrances to sports betting legislation. Sometimes there is simply enough opposition within the House or Senate that the bill falls flat and falls apart. Other times, we’ve seen that the “social ills” of gambling produce enough of a negative sentiment for proposals to fall apart, either in a legislative session or from a popular vote.
Sometimes, it is the tribes and their amount of influence. That seems to be the case in Oklahoma. Not enough people are working together to make legalized sports betting happen and there are too many other issues at the forefront for substantive discussion to even take place.
As a result, we’re looking at a long, uphill climb with legalized betting in Oklahoma and a dispute that may not end anytime soon.
How Do I Bet on Sports in Oklahoma?
Because Oklahoma does not have legalized sports betting and will not for the foreseeable future, that means that it is time to go mobile and find a different place to get your bets in. The only state as of April 2020 with legalized sports betting that shares a border with Oklahoma is Arkansas. That, however, is only retail betting, so interested bettors would have to saddle up at a brick-and-mortar facility.
Kansas is very close to adopting legalized sports betting that would include mobile and online wagering, so that will be a great option for Oklahomans looking for somewhere to bet. It wouldn’t be a total shocker if Missouri moved a lot quicker on sports betting if it was surrounded by yet another state taking bets. Illinois and Iowa already take bets and Tennessee will start in 2020.
The Oklahoma panhandle will also have the opportunity to bet in Colorado beginning in May 2020. Those willing to commute are going to find places willing to take their action.
And people will have to be willing to commute in order to bet on sports for quite some time because the state of Oklahoma is nowhere close to legal sports betting.