Will Oklahoma Online Sports Betting Be Allowed if The Sooner State Legalizes Casino Gambling?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Will Oklahoma Online Sports Betting Be Allowed if The Sooner State Legalizes Casino Gambling?

At this point, we know Oklahoma must wait until at least 2023 for legal sports betting, if not stick it out even longer even longer than that. But assuming they eventually pass the necessary measures, we still don't know what form it may take. Most have projected an all-in approach being adopted by other states. The truth is, though, Oklahoma online sports betting may not actually be part of the plan to legalize sports gambling.

Reading that back, it doesn't make sense. How could sports betting in Oklahoma be legal but not include online gambling? Don't all states with legal sports betting also have online sports gambling?

While this is the prevailing presumption on the subject, it's actually not the case. In fact, there is a push for only partial implementation of legal sports betting, both in Oklahoma and elsewhere. And it's this division of thought that has so far contributed to the sports betting holdup in The Sooner State.

Oklahoma Online Sports Betting Not a Guarantee

Let's throw out Oklahoma's actual desire to approve legal sports betting for a second. Various polls still show that voters within the state could be on the fence or outright against it. For the sake of our argument, though, let's say residents are all for it. What would legal sports betting look like within the state?

If the tribal-operated casinos have their way, it will look a lot different than it does in places like New York, Ohio, Illinois and most others.

There are currently 133 casinos in Oklahoma. All of them are operated by 33 tribes. Though none of these establishments flat-out oppose legal sports betting, they are against commercial online operators getting licenses within the state. Their main problem: revenue stream.

Bigger online sportsbooks such as FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars and others have an inherently larger reach. They are not only more familiar with offering online services, but they have the resources to spend millions upon millions on advertising. Tribal casinos cannot compete with pockets that deep. They don't think they should have to, either. They argue that allowing online sportsbooks to operate within Oklahoma would severely damage their own profits—and they're not wrong.

Multiple studies have shown that most of the legal sports bets placed in the United States originate online. Fewer people are traveling to casinos not just because the U.S. is still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, but because it's just flat-out more convenient. Tribal casinos can always push for online gaming licenses, but they wouldn't be nearly as established on the medium as a company with more than a decade of experience. This is why Oklahoma sports betting proposals have so often featured various options. One will invariably limit sports betting to on-site lounges and kiosks at casinos while alternatives will push for online sports betting that allows operators outside the state to enter the market.

Is There Precedent for Oklahoma Online Sports Betting to be Left Off Gambling Bills?

Sports betting enthusiasts in Oklahoma won't like the answer to this question.

Other states have tackled this same issue, and some have even decided to nix online sports betting as part of the legalization process. The most noteworthy of these examples is Florida. They initially legalized sports betting in person at any casino or track owned and operated by the Seminole tribe. About a month into the official rollout, though, a judge ruled in favor of other tribes and commercial sportsbooks that argued this represented an unconstitutional monopoly. The state of Florida repealed legal sports betting in December 2021 and has yet to bring it back.

California is also in the later stages of the same issue facing Oklahoma online sports betting. Voters in The Golden State will have two different gambling initiatives to evaluate on the November 2022 ballot. One restricts sports betting to in-person at tribal-operated casinos and game rooms; the other allows for sports betting in-person and online. The results of the California sports betting debate, in particular, could determine how other states such as Oklahoma handle the same issue.

Where Does All This Leave Oklahoma?

It's a little early to be worrying about the details of legal sports betting in Oklahoma. The state first needs to even get that far. To this point, they have been reticent to even discuss the topic with any consistency or conviction.

When that changes, the sheer number of tribal operated casinos in the state ensure there will plenty to debate. But that doesn't mean Oklahoma online sports betting will fall by the wayside in favor of brick-and-mortar gambling. Provisions can be added to sports betting proposals that find a middle ground between online sportsbooks and tribal-operated casinos. 

Among the most popular suggestions is charging online retailers a higher tax on their transactions while also mandating they partner with at least one tribal casino to provide their services. This is the option California elected to go with for their online betting proposal. That's what makes them such an interesting case study for Oklahoma and other states.

However, should the worst come true, Oklahomans are not without options. Our reviews of the top online sportsbooks feature odds providers that will accept bets from residents of Oklahoma right now. If your state winds up only legalizing in-person sports betting, this stands a nice alternative.

And a necessary one, too.

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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