Oklahoma Sports Betting Issue Now Being Approached with More Urgency…and Confusion

Oklahoma Sports Betting Issue Now Being Approached with More Urgency…and Confusion

As more and more states continue to take a look at the potential legalization of more gambling options, there remains a relative unknown about the future of legal sports betting in Oklahoma. That might not even do the apparent delicateness of the situation justice. See, Oklahoma sports betting at once seems to be getting addressed with more urgency, complete indifference, and mild to inordinate amounts of confusion, all at the same time.

In the most literal sense, of course, we know that Oklahoma sports betting isn’t atop the state’s list of priorities. They rejected the most recent opportunity to vote a sports betting proposal into law. In fact, the latest bill did not even make it past the most preliminary level of legislation.

Still, Oklahoma sports betting is clearly on the mind of officials and residents alike in the state. Informal projections have posited there was an increase in offshore sports betting over the last year, which would mean that The Sooner State is missing out on millions in possible tax revenue.

Only more recently, though, has there been an uptick in unrest among select officials. Many seem to be frustrated that the state has taken such a laissez-faire and totally indifferent approach to the matters. Meanwhile, others are now starting to wonder whether it’s the ongoing dispute between Governor Kevin Stitt and the state’s tribes that is actually causing the stalemate Oklahoma finds itself in now.

Oklahoma Sports Betting May be Collateral Damage of Tense Relations Between Tribes and Governor Kevin Stitt

The current laws that address gaming in Oklahoma are not entirely unique, but they’re also not garden variety. Tribes located within the states have been granted exclusive gaming rights. While this covers casinos and horse racing, among other things, it does not include sports betting. At the same time, the state needs the approval of the tribes if they wish to amend the constitution to include sports betting.

To this point, however, the two sides have been unable to find common ground. Such impasses aren’t unheard of, but the lack of progress has, quite frankly, been absolutely staggering. Plenty of other states—30, to be exact—have come to an agreement with their tribes on how to incorporate in-person sports betting and, in most instances, online sports wagering.

Tribes in Oklahoma have been resistant to attempts from the state government to address the issue. In particular, they have shown a disdain for working with Governor Stitt due to contentious and ongoing negotiations related to their fishing and hunting licenses.

Still Many Hurdles for Oklahoma Sports Betting to Clear

Could these unsavory discussions between Stitt and the state’s tribes really be holding back the future of Oklahoma sports betting? Some are skeptical. They tend to believe the primary cause is an issue of tax rate negotiations, along with the tribes’ unwillingness to have out-of-state online sportsbooks infringe upon their territory.

For the most part, though, the sentiment is shifting toward the other side. The general belief is that if Stitt were more willing to work with the state’s tribes, Oklahoma sports betting could be on a faster track. Consider what Stephen Crystal, the founder of SCCG management, a consulting company with a specialty in sports betting, said at a recent panel for the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Conference and Trade Show, according to Tulsa World:

"Understandably, given the way that Oklahoma is set up with its (tribal) sovereignty, with its exclusive tribal jurisdiction, the issues here have been particularly political in terms of how and what is the best way for Oklahoma to move forward.”

On the one hand, this could be construed as promising. If this matter is as simple as Stitt and the tribes getting on the same page with hunting and fishing arrangements, then surely there’s plenty of hope for Oklahoma sports betting. 

Perhaps that’s true. Then again, Mr. Crystal isn’t so sure. "I really don't want to step into that debate,” he said when asked about whether there’s hope for sports betting in Oklahoma soon.

The Future of Oklahoma Sports Betting is Wildly Uncertain

Adding to the issues facing Oklahoma: There’s a chance that casino sports gambling will get legalized but not online betting. The state’s tribes have enough say in accordance with their gaming compact that even if Stitt is more willing to negotiate future terms, they may still insist on exclusivity when it comes to offering sports betting.

That certainly isn’t what gambling enthusiasts in Oklahoma want to hear. Luckily, they’re not without options if they want to start online sports betting

Our list of the top online sportsbooks includes a vast number of reputable sites that allow Oklahoma bettors to set up accounts and begin processing transactions. They also have the ability to visit one of the nearby states that have already legalized sports betting in 2022, a list that includes Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, and, as of July 1, Kansas.

Aside from exploring their alternatives, Oklahoma sports bettors cannot do much else other than wait. And they’ll probably want to strap in for the long haul. As of now, the soonest Oklahoma could feasibly get legal sports betting is sometime in 2024 or 2025; given all the levels of legislation, the issue still needs to clear.

Mind you, that’s assuming the state and tribes completely embrace the idea in the near future. This dilemma will persist much longer if concessions and compromises don’t start being made soon.

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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