Multiple Oklahoma Sports Betting Bills May be Proposed in 2025

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 20, 2024 12:00 AM
Due to the failure to legalize Oklahoma sports betting using one approach, multiple bills are now expected to be proposed in 2025.

After multiple attempts to legalize Oklahoma sports betting have failed to pan out, officials may be planning for a different, potentially more aggressive approach in 2025.

This news comes on the heels of yet another botched bid. The push to legalize sports betting in Oklahoma continued during 2024 legislative meetings. However, while a bill was on the table, it never gained real traction.

The issues preventing the latest initiative from getting off the ground remain manyfold. Chief among them, though, is Governor Kevin Stitt’s strained relationship with the state’s tribes. Tensions have run high ever since he tried to negotiate Oklahoma sports betting compacts with select tribes. The Sooner State’s tribal operators have seemed reluctant to support any of Governor Stitt’s proposals in the ensuing years—including this one. 

Of course, it isn’t just their frayed dynamic contributing to persisting failures. Tribes also don’t seem keen on letting top online sportsbooks in the United States enter the market. And to be sure, this is not especially surprising. 

Similar opposition has cropped up in other states. It’s why some locations have chosen to legalize only on-site sports betting rather than license online USA sportsbooks. Tribes typically view commercial sportsbooks operators as unjust competition. The top USA online sportsbooks have been up and running for a while and, as a result, have a much wider reach. It can be harder for even veteran sportsbooks like BetMGM and Caesars to compete with industry heavyweights such as FanDuel and DraftKings. You can understand why local casinos will be hesitant to jockey for market share.

Still, many states facing this divide have figured out a way to legalize some form of sports betting anyway. After all, 38 of 50 states would have legal sports wagering if they couldn’t compromise. The struggle for Oklahoma sports betting is uniquely complicated. And it’s this convolution that will apparently encourage a different approach next year.

Senator Bill Coleman Discussed Potential Oklahoma Sports Betting Plans for 2025

On the heels of the most recent failed bid for Oklahoma sports betting, state Senator Bill Coleman reflected on what went wrong and what’s still to come. His sentiments were conveyed to ABC 8’s Rian Stockett. Below, you can see Senatore Coleman’s most notable points:

“Coleman says that while this bill has a lot of support from legislators, it didn’t progress from the rules committee because there’s a lack of an agreement between the state and tribes on how sports gambling would work in Oklahoma. ‘The leadership felt that it was something that was not going to be able to be put into law just by us passing it out of the Senate. There had to be more steps to take place.’ Coleman says they didn't feel those steps were going to be taken. ‘The tribes have exclusive rights to gaming in the state of Oklahoma. The state has to have the tribes on board to be able to do sports betting.

"’We're still trying to push forward,’ [he added]. ‘I would imagine myself and or Representative [Morgan] Luttrell will follow a similar bill next year to see if we can get an agreement between the tribes and the state.’ Coleman says next year they’re going to start the process all over again, only this time they’re going to write mirror bills. Coleman will start a bill in the Senate and Representative Luttrell will start one in the House.”

The use of “mirror bills” would be an interesting tactic. But what exactly does it mean?

What Would Mirror Bills Do for Sports Betting in the Sooner State?

Immediately, it isn’t clear what the intention will be for the mirror bills. At first thought, it seems like they should propose separate bills, with one legalizing Oklahoma online sports betting and the other focusing solely on tribal sports betting. This way, they’d be able to gauge preferences from both the House and Senate. And if they both pass, they could be given to the state’s voters on the 2026 general election ballot.

Yet, when Senator Coleman says “mirror,” we must assume he plans for the multiple Oklahoma sports betting bills to be the exact same. This, naturally, raises a question: What does that actually do? 

Two benefits stand out from this approach. First off, separate but identical bills would allow the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives to discuss the initiatives simultaneously rather than wait for one chamber to pass their proposal to the other. 

Secondly, this seems as if it’ll also be an informational play. By putting the same Oklahoma sports betting proposal in front of both chambers, they ensure that they’ll get the opinions of each even if the bill doesn’t pass through either one

Granted, this isn't the only driving force behind mirror bills. Senators Coleman and Representative Luttrell no doubt want the initiatives to succeed. But in the event they don’t, proponents from both chambers will at least know why. Those issues can then shape the formation of the next iteration of Oklahoma sports betting bills after 2025.

In the End, Oklahoma Sports Betting May Still Come Down to Governor Stitt and the Tribes

Proposing mirror bills just to have them fail and need to wait out further discussions until 2026 or later hardly profiles as an ideal outcome and timeline. However, failing with additional information would be more valuable than seeing the initiative bomb in one chamber and not make it to the other.

Plus, it may even matter. Mirror bills, two separate bills, a multitude of bills—whatever. The future of sports betting in the Sooner State may hinge on the dynamic between Governor Stitt and the tribes. A sports gambling bill that appeals to both sides probably won’t ever exist without it.

For proponents of a wagering initiative, this should be considered bad news. Sure, it’s possible Governor Stitt’s office and the tribes could one day find common ground. Maybe they even collaborate. But that feels unlikely at the moment.

When Governor Stitt responded to the latest Oklahoma sports betting attempt, he didn’t mention taking it as a sign that needed to collaborate alongside the tribes. Senator Coleman also confirmed the tribe-governor relationship remains strained. In fact, we have to believe this is part of the impetus for mirroring bills. Legislators can’t count on a single chamber passing it through for consideration if the governor or tribes stymie it. 

So, will Oklahoma tribes and Governor Stitt ever establish that happy medium? And could they possibly do so in time for sports betting throughout Oklahoma to be approved in 2025? We honestly don’t. At this point, though, we’d be inclined to bet against it.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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