Oklahoma Tribes Reject Sports Betting Bill
States all across the country continue to try and legalize sports betting, but it didn’t appear that Oklahoma was one of those states. That was until last Friday when Governor Kevin Stitt proposed an agreement with Native American tribes in the state to offer sports betting at their casinos.
Under normal circumstances, the Native American tribes might have accepted the offer, but things are not normal between Stitt and the Native American tribes.
Oklahoma lawmakers did not propose any sports betting bills during their most recent legislative session, and it didn’t appear that there was going to be any traction made.
The session is now over for the year, and there isn’t a chance to create or sponsor any new bills. Governor Stitt has been a proponent of legalized sports betting in the state, and he tried to take matters into his own hands last week.
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Currently, Governor Stitt and the Native American tribes are in the middle of a lawsuit dealing with the current gaming compacts. A compact is an agreement between the Native American tribes and the state, which gives the tribes the power to have casinos on their land.
The previous compact expired on Dec. 31, 2019, and a new one has yet to be signed. Stitt was hoping to make some changes to the compact before it was signed again, while the Native American tribes believed that the compact should just roll over and continue in 2020. Money and tax rates are at the heart of this debate.
Governor Stitt wants the lawsuit to come to an end, and he was willing to make some pretty good offers to Native American tribes for this to happen. On Friday, Stitt not only offered to make some concessions to his original compact agreement offer, but he offered sports betting to the casinos as well.
The state of Oklahoma would have earned a 2% tax revenue on all sports betting action, and the state was only asking for 5% of all other revenue earned from the casinos. Both of those numbers are extremely low compared to other states around the country, but the Native American tribes were not interested.
Not only were the Native American tribes not interested in the offer from Stitt, but they accused the governor of using the coronavirus as a way to divide the tribes. All casinos are currently closed throughout the state due to the pandemic, and none of the casinos are able to make any money.
Native American tribes were also worried that state lawmakers would be able to make any changes to Stitt’s proposal if they accepted the deal. At this point, it appears that both sides will be unable to reach an agreement, and the matter will be decided in court.
Gambling Industry in Oklahoma
The Choctaw and Chickasaw Tribes are the leaders in the gambling industry in Oklahoma, but they aren’t the only ones that have a casino. There are currently 102 casinos in the state of Oklahoma, and some of the biggest casinos in the country are located in the state.
The WinStar World Casino and Resort is owned by the Choctaw Tribe, and it is the biggest casino in the US.
The casino industry in Oklahoma generates over $4 billion per year, and it does so through a variety of games. In 2016, the tribes paid the state of Oklahoma over $128 million in fees as part of the compact, and that number has gone up each year since.
Class II gaming locations offer bingo, and games that are similar. Class III gaming locations offer the traditional casino games, including slot machines and live poker.