Governor Kevin Stitt Wants Oklahoma Sports Betting Legalized 'This Year'

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 7, 2023 07:00 PM
Governor Kevin Stitt Wants Oklahoma Sports Betting Legalized 'This Year'

Governor Kevin Stitt has not made his stance on sports betting in Oklahoma a secret. He has, however, refrained from pushing his support for Oklahoma sports betting with any trace of urgency or true force.

That is, until now.

“If we’re going to do it, I’m the kind of person that says, ‘Hey, let’s get it done now,’” the governor told the hosts of local sports radio show The Franchise during a recent interview, according to Tulsa World. 

There's no room for interpretation here. Kevin Stitt wants Oklahoma sports betting to be legalized in 2023. But will he get his wish? And are there any strings attached to those desires?

Equally important: What's the status of the discussion on legal sports betting in Oklahoma anyway?

Governor Kevin Stitt Focused on Legalizing Mobile Oklahoma Sports Betting

In particular, Governor Stitt mentioned that he wants to see The Sooner State commit to the legalization of mobile gaming. While other states have simply green lit in-person betting to help winnow down the number of stakeholders and help maintain tribal relations, he was quick to note that Oklahomans already bet on sports online.

He's not wrong, either. As we've explained ad nauseam, just because a state won't legalize mobile sports betting doesn't mean their residents can't submit wagers via other avenues. Plenty of reputable off-shore sites allow almost anyone in the United States to create accounts and process all the necessary transactions. Just take a look at our reviews of the top online sportsbooks in the industry for 2023. You will find a bunch of reliable odds providers that don't discriminate based up on geographical location.

Granted, not everyone takes advantage of these alternatives. But some do. It is estimated that more than 25 percent of all USA residents have placed a bet with online off-shore sportsbooks at some point, according to a study done by the University of California, Berkeley. That figure is bound to be higher in places such as Oklahoma where people don't have the option of using domestic sportsbooks unless they cross state lines.

Like every other proponent of Oklahoma sports betting, Stitt explains that the absence of mobile gaming simply costs the state a ton of tax revenue without actually preventing anything. And while some of the terminology can be over the top, the overarching nature of this logic tracks.

What is the Governor Doing to Promote Legal Sports Betting in Oklahoma?

Mr. Stitt's support for online sports betting in Oklahoma begs an important question: Can he do anything to help the process of legalization? His power is limited in this regard. State governors do not have the capacity to unilaterally legalize sports betting. 

The approval of Oklahoma online sports betting can be especially tricky. It requires a constitutional amendment. That means a sports betting measure must successfully pass through the House of Representatives and Senate. After that, it must then be put on a general election ballot and receive a majority vote from state residents.

Oklahoma's next general election will take place in 2024, which essentially mandates a sports betting bill must make it out of this year's legislature meetings. That may be a tall ask. The 2023 legislative sessions began on February 6, and we haven't heard too much about the future of Oklahoma sports betting during that time. Knowing the meetings will adjourn on May 26, the state has only a couple of more months to take action.

For his part, Governor Stitt is trying to ensure the matter of Oklahoma sports betting remains top-of-mind among key decision-makers. As he told The Franchise at the beginning of March: “Right now, we’re just kind of studying it, bringing all the stakeholders together. We’ve got some casinos that want to be a part of that. We’ve got the (Oklahoma City) Thunder … and the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State athletic departments that want to weigh in.”

Gaining support from the state's major sports organizations is a step in the right direction. But if Stitt is going to successfully bring legal sports betting to Oklahoma, he will need to do something he's yet to do while in office: garner the support of the state's Native American tribes.

Stitt is Confident Oklahoma Can Find a Middle Ground with the State's Tribes

Though Governor Stitt's time in his post has been punctuated by rocky relations with the state's tribes, he told The Franchise that he believes the two sides can work through their differences, and that tribal leaders will make an appearance at the negotiating table when the time eventually comes.

Others are not so optimistic. Oklahoma tribes have remained at odds with Governor Stitt ever since he attempted to re-broker their gaming compact. The initial agreement, which remains intact, grants tribes inside the state exclusive rights to all gambling offerings.

This could lead to in-person-only betting down the line. It could also blow up forthcoming discussions entirely. There's really no telling what could happen. The relationship between Oklahoma tribes and Governor Stitt appears that strained. By extension, that also makes it unpredictable.

Right now, the only thing we know with absolute certainty is this: Governor Stitt wants online sports betting to get the stamp of approval in 2023, and that's not going to happen without the cooperation of Oklahoma tribes.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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